My friend Wendy and I went to see the DaVinci exhibit at the Winnipeg MTS Exhibition Hall yesterday. What a Renaissance man! There was nothing he didn’t dabble in creatively— music, medicine, the military, machines of every sort and of course art. It reminded me a bit of the stories I’ve been reading about Steve Jobs who was still coming up with inventive ideas on his death-bed. Walking through the Winnipeg exhibit, I thought of many personal Da Vinci connections.
There was an opportunity at the exhibit to have your picture taken and then superimposed on the body of Mona Lisa. When I was teaching grade five in Hong Kong we did a unit on the Renaissance in social studies.One assignment was for the students to create their own rendition of a Renaissance painting or invention. An imaginative student named Moe Arimoto from Japan painted the background of the Mona Lisa, and then inserted a photo of herself into Da Vinci’s masterpiece. She called it the MOE LISA. Talk about inspired genius!
Another one of my talented Hong Kong students named Steffi Lee used different kinds of paper and even doilies to create a very unique version of DaVinci’s painting The Last Supper. A movie at the Winnipeg exhibit explains exactly how the Last Supper was created. I have become something of a Last Supper collector during our travels and among many others have captured the following DaVinci Last Suppers with my camera.
The Winnipeg exhibit features realistic models of many of Leonardo’s inventions constructed using the diagrams in his notebooks. This was not the first time I had seen an exhibit of DaVinci’s inventions. When we were in Florence in January of 2009 we visited the DaVinci museum there and I photographed this bicycle, made using plans in a 400 year old notebook of DaVinci’s. The Winnipeg exhibit has a DaVinci bicycle as well.
Isaac Chan, another of my Hong Kong fifth graders created this model of one of Da Vinci’s flying gliders. Check out the version in the Florence museum I photographed below. There was one in the Winnipeg exhibit too.
I did a fairy tale writing unit with my grade ten composition class in Hong Kong and we watched the film Ever After. Leonardo DaVinci makes an appearance as a wise advisor to the Cinderella character in the movie, which is set in France. One of the pieces of advice he gives to Cinderella is…….”I know that a life without love is no life at all.” I have no idea if Leonardo actually said that, but the display in Winnipeg I saw yesterday did have a list of some words of wisdom that can be attributed to Leonardo. As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death and Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.
Leonardo DaVinci’s name gained great prominence in 2003 when Dan Brown wrote a best-selling novel called The DaVinci Code. I once preached a sermon on the novel. I talked about what the Christian church might learn from the fact that the novel gained such widespread popularity.