I went to dinner with a friend last night and was asked about my favorite object at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To my own surprise, and probably to his disappointment, I was blanking out on a satisfactory answer. Would I be true to myself if I picked Woman Having Her Hair Combed by Degas, or Woman by de Kooning, or the collection of Georgia O'Keeffe’s photographs by Alfred Stieglitz? Have I visited these pieces enough to make them mine?
On my train ride home, I mentally walked through my favorite galleries at the MET – jumping back and forth between the Modern/Contemporary section and the Impressionist rooms. It was a voila! moment when I remembered the glorious Assyrian Lamassu that stands at 10 ft tall guarding the gates of the Ancient Near East gallery. How could I forget!
I remember my first time encountering the Lamassu; I was scared, in awe, and uncomfortable. This huge alabaster creature was towering over me without an ounce of mercy in its eyes and posture, not caring about me, nor I about it. Yet the more time I spent with Lamas (my nickname for him), the more I felt protected under his wings. His firm stance, his colossal beard, and elaborate headdress grew on me with every trip I made to the MET.
Last night’s dinner was a reminder for me to visit Lamas again and check up on how he is doing for it really has been a cold winter in New York.