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Art Through the Eyes of a Child

In 1991, I came to America with my parents and my brother. I was almost 11 years old then. I was very excited about the change in my life. Flying on a plane was a great adventure to me, and going to America felt like traveling to wonderland.

We came to New York City in the evening, and the lights of the city felt magical to me. Yet, in the morning, when I saw brownstones of Brooklyn, busy streets, it all started to feel rather disappointing.

Everyday life started. Going to school, doing homework - and adjusting to new environment. In my class there were many Russian kids, so I wasn't isolated by language barrier. And yet I remember how I felt totally lost. I was very frustrated that English wasn't coming to me easily. I was always a good student, but now doing homework in English was taking me 4-5 hours. I couldn't understand what the teacher was saying in class, so I had to ask my Russian friends for help all the time.

That first year in America was one of the hardest years of my life. Outside world - school, city - felt noisy and often hostile. I hated the school building with iron fence, I hated the hot sunlit school yard without a single tree.

I couldn't understand what I was missing, but I often felt depressed. And then I found a close friend. It was one of the few books that we brought with us. A small album of art reproductions from Hermitage collection. I remember how I would sit for hours looking through its pages. I was looking at ancient Russian icons and paintings by Durer, at Leonardo and Raphael, at Rembrandt, Titian, Velazquez and Vermeer. In the end of the book, there were impressionists, Picasso, and Matisse.

I didn't know anything about art history then. Names didn't matter to me. I was just looking at the images. Some of them were funny to me, some I didn't like at all, and some I loved. I was drawn to this same book again and again. It amazed me how every time when I opened its pages, I started feeling inner peace, harmony. I loved looking at Leonardo, Titian, Velazquez. Their works were touching me deeply, and every time I was looking at them, I found that I still didn't reach the bottom.

Icons and early Christian paintings felt funny to me, because of distortions in the figures, and symbols. And the end of the book I liked the least. Paintings by Matisse, even the painting of a little girl by Renoir felt so childish in comparison to Murilo's "Boy and the Dog". That painting I adored - boy's smile and his sad eyes - I still remember them.

At that period of my life, paintings literally started to speak with me. As if some inner door with inner dimension opened inviting me to explore the meaning of life, its depth and its harmony.

Since then, there were many books and paintings in my life. They supported me in my down times, and guided me on my path. They inspired me to go deeper and deeper reaching for more treasures - treasures that lie in our soul when it's touched by beauty.

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