Caroline Kleiner ’20 was the Johnson Museum’s academic programs intern for Spring 2020.

Steven Barbash (American, 1933–2016), "Six Mile Creek," 1987. Oil on linen, 14 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. Acquired through the Museum Membership Fund, 88.018.

Steven Barbash’s Six Mile Creek has a timelessness and enduring energy. This painting depicts the continuous stream of water that flows through the creek, a reliable and beautiful feature that never ceases to impress. The greenery throughout the image encompasses nearly every inch of the canvas, except for the steady waterfall. These natural elements are further juxtaposed in Barbash’s construction of their shape: the rocks and natural greens are painted with horizontal lines, while the waterfall is created with opposing, vertical lines. Despite the obvious action in this image, there is also an overall sense of calm.

Six Mile Creek was where I found myself the day President Martha Pollack announced that there would no longer be any in-person classes for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus. For me, as a graduating senior, that meant the rest of my time at Cornell and in Ithaca. In that moment, it felt like the whole world was changing and the future was uncertain. But as I walked along the path from the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve to Second Dam along Six Mile Creek with my best friend, I found comfort in knowing that some things will never change.

The emotions I felt as I walked along Six Mile Creek that day are epitomized in Barbash’s work. The rush of the water and the serenity of nature is what drew me there that day, and something I greatly miss about living in Ithaca.