This little Oaxacan goat family recently arrived in my mailbox---I ordered them from the National Museum of Mexican Art, in Chicago. My parents had a dairy goat herd when I was a child, and I have a special fondness for those animals, so when I heard of this work of art, I could not resist. But when I unwrapped the figures and set them up...something was missing. I didn't know what.
Adding to the mystery was a separate little parcel containing..."Of course! Tails!" I thought. I'm familiar with these wooden Mexican folk art creatures; many figures have detachable tails.
Except these goats were sitting down---there was no room for a tail. Nor a place to attach the tails. And besides, this is not what goat tails look like. "The museum made a mistake," I decided, and I wrapped up the tails and mailed them back. A few days later I received a phone call from the Museum. "We did not make a mistake," said the Museum."Those are not tails; they are..."
..."horns!" And suddenly, something was no longer missing. Just so, in creating a piece of art, there is that one small element or addition that---sparked by some stray comment or idea---can make all the difference.