A Guide at the Crossroads

Most of us are familiar with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood . . .
Jos© Bedia, San L¡zaro (O Yo Soy La Ruta), 1992, 115 x 61 1/2 in., acrylic on canvas, Purchased with funds from the bequest of W. R. Valentiner, by exchange

The traveler in this poem is at a crossroads in his life. He describes the two possibilities and tells the reader his choice, but how did he make the final decision? What guided him?

Making difficult decisions inspires many art forms. For contemporary Cuban artist Jos© Bedia, making a decision inspired his larger-than-life portrayal of San L¡zaro, a prominent figure in the Afro-Cuban religious tradition. San L¡zaro is seen as “a spiritual guide and a kind of guardian of the crossroads,” says Linda Dougherty, NCMA curator of modern and contemporary art. “He’ll appear when you’re on a journey and you’re at a crossroads and you’re trying to make a choice as to which way you should go.”

How do you make decisions? What do you learn from the decision-making process?

Watch this video to hear NCMA curator Linda Dougherty tell us more about San L¡zaro, his alter ego, and the artist’s personal connection to this figure.

Bonus: What is the connection between Bedia’s painting and this sculpture in the Museum Park? Hear curator Linda Dougherty’s insight in the video.

Martha Jackson-Jarvis, Crossroads/Trickster I, 2005, brick, steel, mortar, glass tile, and stone, H: 20 ft., Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from Wachovia Bank and the North Carolina Department of Transportation Enhancement Program

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