My interest in the arts began very early; going back to my single digit years and my parents’ amazement at my ability to draw “freehand,” in the phrase of the day. In elementary school if art contests were had, they often resulted in prizes for me. In one notorious year when ‘art’ meant coloring in a pre-drawn page, I was given the page Thursday afternoon and assigned to do the coloring; then Friday afternoon the class was directed to ‘color as Linda did.’ Ahh, art it wasn’t, and while embarrassing, it did build my confidence.
High School brought the possibility of really studying art. One of my fondest memories comes from sophomore year and my sweet-talking the registrar to change my schedule from business math to junior-senior art. That was a coup! Of course there was an art club, and senior year I was president and devised all kinds of new activities to engage and enliven the group.
Music, theater, dance, poetry, all of the arts were very alive in that all girls high school in Baltimore in the early ’60’s, and so performance covers, drawings for poetry magazines, posters, stage scenery, even yearbook ‘end sheets’ in addition to regular art class assignments filled my four years.
I was in love with the ability to create, found it a useful and much valued skill and knew by then it would always be a major part of my life. Art was about creating beauty, a useful kind of beauty and I believe that simple reality remains at the root of my understanding of art. And the words on the art room bulletin board (never changed in four years and so I remember it to this day), “Art is Right Making,” underscored that.
Someone cleverly remarked that the Pandemic has reduced us to the same lot as Peasants living in the Middle Ages:
“Bake Bread, Avoid the Plague, Revolt Against Tyranny.”
How true! I laughed.
…but it brought me to think about the inherent connection all of us have with all those humans who have gone before. And specifically for me, my connection with all those craftspeople, sculptors, potters, those whose skill adorned public and religious structures, even those who painted murals on the rock walls of the caves of Altamira and Lascaux.
Every day in the studio pushes me deeper into an understanding of what art is and what it is all about. The Dutch artist Frederick Franck describes it this way,
“Art is neither a luxury nor merchandise, and far from a hobby. Art must arise from regions fathoms deeper from the deepest recesses of the human Spirit. It springs from the maker’s core, as if it is to touch the core and the very truth of the one who confronts it.”
So while I toil away at 242, creating functional sculpture hopefully to bring beauty to individual residences, my real effort is to infuse the core of life into each work. And while I have a prominent piece of wall sculpture for sale in Papillon, it is there with the express purpose that someone will recognize something of their own spirit in that work and allow it to resonate in their home.
Kafka tells us, “Art is a nothing that is everything,”
I think most of us have a sense of that. Art distinctly changes the energy of a place. I tell my clients who commission work that they are “my Medici;” they make it possible for me to create. To commission a piece of art is inherently different from simply purchasing any other object, a pair of shoes, a kitchen appliance. Those may well make life more comfortable, easier, but they do not deal with a matter of ‘soul.’
It was a comfort to remember that while many were doing the “bread baking” thing, there were also…even back then…many others who were engaged in creating art, that “nothing” which is everything.