Friday February 10th we visited the Emily Dickinson exposition at the Morgan Library. In this almost three hour visit we had the opportunity to be immersed in her life and explore different aspects of what it meant to be a woman artist in the 19th century. The exhibition showcased not only her poems but also numerous letters to her friends and other fascinating aspects of her such as her early years while still in school.
My initial feeling about the room of the exhibition was that it felt somewhat enclosed and presented a very macabre tone with very strong artificial lighting – even though the tour guide specifically commented on the very high ceilings and different ways the library was built in order to enable natural light to come in – which made the rest of the decor consisting of a repeated floral pattern feel somewhat uninviting. The tour guide mentioned that it was the same pattern that was on her room while she was living in Amhert, Massachusetts but it did not really portray what would it really feel like to be in her room at that time and served little more than being a nice decorative feature that has a broad relation to Emily Dickinson. The centerpiece of this exhibition was obviously her work and it was very obvious with the way lights were placed in order to shine directly on her poems and other letters.
The chronological aspect of the room was a nice touch which made it feel as if we were following her story throughout the years. An interesting aspect I noticed was that the older she got, the sloppier her handwriting became. Because the tour was a circle around the room it really gave away a feeling of completion when we were done.
We briefly dwelled about the period Emily Dickinson lived in during our visit. The industrial revolution was in full effect and major changes were occurring that redefined social classes. It was also a period of war for the United States which meant that her work was probably influenced by the events happening during her life.
When I came out of the library I really felt as if this exhibition demystified her life and work. I believe it was an interesting experience that tries its best to show, ultimately, what little we know of this great poet. I realized that being a woman during that time must have been quite challenging since people were generally much more inclined to believe in older ideals that suggested women have a lesser place in society. Emily Dickinson shatters all those beliefs and displays immense skill throughout her lifetime.