Buddhists add a sixth sense to the five we ordinarily think of, and it’s thinking itself; to the Buddhist, thoughts impinge on the mind just the way sights, for example, impress the eye. It’s the vibrant interplay of sense organ, sense object, and consciousness that make up our experience of self.
The concept of Bob Raczka‘s More Than Meets the Eye, part of his Adventures in Art picture book series, treats only the five conventional senses, but he engages the mind as a sixth sense in the process. “Have you ever tasted a painting?” he asks, illustrating with Vermeer’s milk jug, Cassatt’s cup of tea, and of course Thiebaud’s frosted cakes. Hockney’s splashing diver, Jamie Wyeth’s stinky pig and Rivera’s tortillas, among others, point out sound, smell, and touch respectively. Works by Vasarely and Chuck Close demonstrate the art of really looking at pictures.
We don’t get Raczka’s charming rhymes in this book, but there is plenty of art food for thought for children and parents alike. Raczka understands that art is an experience, and he serves it up deliciously. In crossing senses, he also crosses cultures. The images and the senses he evokes and inspires are universal.