Squeaking out of Boston Sunday night on a flight to Lisbon just before the biggest storm of the winter rolled across the Northeast, this was my week to visit Proctor's off-campus programs in Spain and France. I caught up with Dave and Jen and the European Art Classroom students in Madrid to wander Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, the Museo Sorolla, The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Museo del Prado to stand in front of works that ranged from Picasso's "Guernica" to Sollera's "The Horse Bath" to the black paintings of Goya.
Perhaps one of my favorite moments was the Sorolla house in Madrid where the work of the artist was viewed within the context of his life. His garden, dining room, study, studio - the spaces where he lived were not distanced; the wooden floors creaked as they must have creaked when Sorolla walked across them, the morning light breaking through the windows cast shadows as they did over one-hundred years ago.
"Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have enough light in it. I agree with him. We painters, however, can never produce sunlight as it really is. I can only approach the truth of it." - Joaquin Sorolla en " A Painter of Sunlight".
An artist seems to break apart the light of a moment with paints or charcoal - whatever the medium - and to try to put that light back together in a way that makes a moment strong enough to travel through time. A whispering truth for the ages - the dappled light of water and figures swimming, the darker ripples of war and violence, the delightful ripples of child's play. I watched Proctor students listen, I watched them sketch and work to find ways to layer the light of time into their own works, into its own passage.
I saw the same thing in Segovia as both Proctor groups toured the city to learn the history of Spain under Isabel and Fernando, to meet the artist Jesus de la Cruz Leonor who works with students in Spain, and to share a meal with the host families and to express thanks to those who make the unique Proctor program possible. To open one's house to a guest from another country, to share a meal, to partner in creative and life lessons - these endeavors create strong bonds and affirm a sense of humanity's common footing. Some of our families in Segovia have been hosting students for over 20 years!
When a school like Proctor operates on the premise that disparate programs held together by a common mission offers optimal opportunity for students, the campus spreads out. It spreads out across the globe and becomes dependent on faculty and students to live separate from the main yet feel a part of the whole. It requires faculty who embrace a life of independence and adventure, who are tireless in their pursuit of program excellence, and who have the stamina to be "on" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a term after term. It is has been such a delight to be a sojourner in the twin worlds of these programs this week, a rare gift.
It makes me proud to be a part of the Proctor community, proud of its families, its students, and its faculty, and as reluctant as I will be to leave, I look forward to my return to snowy Andover on Sunday!
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School