Here Say: Your Stories about Beauty, Told at the Art and Archaeology Museum

Aug 11, 2015

Here Say is a project in community storytelling. We travel to a new place each week and ask people to share true stories about things we all experience: love, family, learning and more. To see where we've been, check out our interactive map. And to hear your favorite stories from last season, you can find our free podcast on itunes.

Sue Roweten
Credit Sara Shahriari/KBIA

Sometimes technology is blamed for distracting people from the world around us. But Sue Roweton from Bolivar, Missouri told us that it helps her be a keen observer.

I’m an avid Instagrammer, which is a weird thing to bring up, except one of the reasons I tell my kids that in my 50s here I’ve come to appreciate this young people’s medium is I feel like, I don’t travel widely, but a lot in the state of Missouri, and I feel like even in the most commonplace things it helps you to keep an eye out for what’s unique or beautiful.    

Alex Barker, the museum director, can’t choose a favorite or most beautiful object from the collection - but he pointed out a fascinating piece that is easy to miss.

Alex Barker
Credit Sara Shahriari/KBIA

I’m not allowed to tell you which child I prefer - of my children I love them all equally. There are some works that I think are amazing that people don’t notice very often. And one this brings to mind is a beautiful little terra cotta head of a demon named Pazuzu. He’s a Mesopotamian demon, thousands of years old, and aside from being technically a very beautiful work - it’s the head of a lion and it’s amazingly well done - but it’s also a protective demon. So in addition to being fierce and destructive, it’s also a demon that is fierce and destructive to other demons, including the ones which would challenge a woman during childbirth. So you have this magnificent looking thing, which is frightening and inspiring, and the more you know about it the more beautiful it becomes.

 Kristin Schwain is an associate professor of American Art. She says that lately she’s been finding a great deal beauty in the world beyond the museum.

Kristin Schwain
Credit Sara Shahriari/KBIA

Right now it’s my daughter, who is going to be three. And it’s her smile, and it’s when she tells me in the morning whether she wants ponytails or braids. But it’s also children’s books. Children’s books have the most amazing illustrations, and some of them are ingenious. So it’s seeing the world through her eyes, and it’s also reading through her eyes.  

Schwain also points to one work of art. It’s a figure called the Anten-nalope, created by a Korean artist.

He uses historical technology and so he creates with these old tvs and old cabinets, you know, the stuff you remember from your grandmother’s house, or that maybe now you see in antique malls. And he built an antelope out of that. And it raises all sorts of questions about what is the relationship between nature and culture, nature and technology, how much of our concept of nature has been filtered through technology and what do we really know about nature. But it’s also really neat looking, and it’s fun.

Reed, who is eight, was visiting the museum. He agrees with Kristen that the Anten-nalope is pretty amazing.

The Anten-nalope
Credit Sara Shahriari/KBIA

It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. I find it beautiful. And ugly.