Saturday, July 8, 2017
I’ve been away from blogging for a long time. I think of it as a sabbatical away from the blog. I was not uninspired. I was quiet, and in that quietude, a number of deaths befell my family. I think of my family as a tribe, the tribe that offset the state of being an only child. I had many aunts and uncles, many cousins. And best of all, I had my grandparents. They were my greatest treasure, and I haven’t yet learned all the things they taught me though they’ve been gone from me for many years.
About the quietude: I was filled with too many questions to write about things I thought I understood. Why didn’t I ever realize that the more family you have, the more people you are going to lose? That’s what happened in the last year and a half. The landscape of my family has sadly changed. Here in this blog, I try to bring creativity into alignment with life’s daily challenges. But I was simply filled with questions. I guess the biggest question I confronted was what does creativity contribute to loss? That is to say, can creativity actually help us survive loss?
I once believed that art making would help me survive anything. I believed that art was such an important path that if one turned everything into the service of art, the pains of life would have an ultimate purpose. Today I see that there are two paths to that purpose: First there is the power of the process: the act of creating relieves the emotional pressure building up physically and spiritually. In that regard the content or quality of the content has very little meaning. If it works to help the individual survive, then its purpose is served. But if I think about Van Gogh painting to ease his loss, I recognize that the second path of art mediating pain is of value to anyone who experiences one’s work and is also touched or influenced by it. In that case, someone else’s loss is valuable to all of us, though we certainly do not wish harm or pain to anyone.
Creativity is valuable to us when it allows us to let go of overwhelming emotions or images that may torture or haunt us. I am very pleased when someone connects with one of my paintings, even more pleased if they buy it in order to continue communing with it. In the sale of something I created to alleviate pain, the sale allows me a deeper level of letting go by removing the manifested image and object from my view. I may not forget the event or the loss, but a part of the energy it provoked in me is released and eventually sent away.
Amazingly, that which pain manifests may bring comfort to someone else. This is true for literary arts as well as visual arts. It is perhaps even a greater part of musical composition and performance, as well as film and theater. Maybe that is a definition of art, something done with such skilled truthfulness as to pass along a shared dimension of the human experience, albeit beautiful or brutal.
Thanks for reading.
The image at the top is a small journal painting titled "Dolor de Corazon".