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Our earliest ancestor recognized a face reﬂected in a pool of still water: there began the evolution of our idea of self. Ancient cultures captured reﬂections in stone, iron, coal, copper, silver, and glass. In mirrors, priests and magicians saw prophecies and vessels of the soul. Mirrors educated artists and scientists. As a child, you noticed your mother's furtive glance at her face in a compact's tiny glass. You suspected this attention was not for you.
We are surrounded by mirrors. Yet mirrors, especially small mirrors, still abound in mystery. they grant our eye magic powers. Every child has conﬁgured them to see ears, hair and profiles that only others have seen. Every child has marveled at the vortex of infinity. Each of us has conversed with the image in the mirror. In old age, we revisit the long-familiar image in the mirror to ask if the spirit is still there.
That's the Challenge: Shine light on the meanings in a mirror. Play with light. Play with ideas. Make the mirror invisible, or ﬂash, or literally, the focal point. Add, substract, multiply or divide images. Reverse and invert the world. Reﬂect truth…or make is disappear.
In Leonardo's Italy Venetian glass makers had begun to master the secrets of crafting the modern mirror…secrets jealously guarded. Intellectuals dismissed the mirror as an instrument of vanity, trickery and superstition. Leonardo embraced the mirror as a window of truth. All that we see is reﬂection. The mirror's reﬂection is the truest. Leonardo tested his art and science with mirrors. He reveled in the order of symmetry. He drew machines to make more perfect mirrors. Leonardo aspired to be nature's mirror.
And yes, he wrote in a reﬂected script. But Leonardo knew mirrors too well to imagine they might keep the secrets of such a simple code.
Leonardo daVinci painted with unrivaled vision, explored science with modern logic, and invented with pure imagination. The Leonardo Challenge celebrates one of his inventions: improvisational creativity. One hundred artists, designers, and playful spirits will transform a common object – this year, mirrors – with with, whimsy and artistry.
The April 28th Beneﬁt will revel in those artists' creativity. Through their generosity, and yours, the evening will support workshops and outreach for a new generation of Leonardos.