Thankful for art

Imagination rich with infinite shapes and dimensions...

Art is a gift. It's as simple as that. I was born with an imagination rich with infinite shapes and dimensions, and even more colors to wrap them in. It has been a personal frustration of mine, that these beautiful creations have rarely been manifested on paper or canvas, with the intricate detail I could see them within my own mind's eye. However imperfect in my own artistic merit, I have been blessed with the sight to gaze upon others' vision of the world around them, while absorbing representations of emotion that couldn't hope to be captured in words, but only color, strokes, and explosive textures. While language is powerful enough to blanket my heart with awe, visual offerings can leave me equally dumbfounded. Perhaps it's my empathic spirit, but with each piece, I can feel the complexity of the artist's persona as they purge their overflowing muse into the world, with a glimmer of hope that it will touch another, or simply, that it's mere existence will free the artist from the torment of singular ownership.

Nothing short of a visual kaleidoscope...

In undergrad, I had my heart set on double majoring in both art and psychology. I had wanted to be an art therapist so desperately. It seemed the perfect marriage of my desire to heal others, while scratching my artists itch. So much can be interpreted from the use of color, placement, shadow, and shape. Outside of this theoretical counseling world, I longed to spend my days alone, covered in paint or charcoal, listening to my records, and creating something that didn't exist before. I found that whatever emotion I was feeling could be easily worked out with the kneading of a moldable eraser, and smearing of pastels on brown packing paper. In those days, a pack of Strathmore paper seemed a luxury, like curry or Tab cola. I made due with dollar store supplies. A perfect surface, taped on doors and walls around my ever-colorful eclectic studio apartment. I was especially inspired by the movie Moulin Rouge. Baz Luhrmann was the most incredible director, rich with vision. He has a way of expressing the universe through color and song with staccato cinematography, nothing short of a visual kaleidoscope. 

A less appreciated breed...

I would spend hours transfixed in the stacks at the university library. Art books were far too big to fit in my backpack for checkout, but cross-legged, I would search out the colors of Kandinsky, Chihuly, and interpret the complex abstractions of Picasso. He suffered depression, and it was palpable. A fate I was more than familiar with. His art left me feeling less isolated in an otherwise consuming darkness. Artemisia Gentileschi was scandalous in her depiction of a murderess in "Judith Slaying Holofernes." A story of a woman brutally executing her rapist. This was unheard of in the Baroque period, when commissioned paintings were usually of a religious nature, and certainly not depicting a woman within a power position. I was enchanted by this artist. She was a rebel rouser and feminist before her time. Plus, my own experiences with assault left me rooting for her stab the bastard a little harder. My art classes were taxing, as most of the students were representational artists, effortlessly spewing out a picture-perfect replica of a fruit bowl, self-portrait, or paper shadows. I was known as a stylized non-representational artist. A less appreciated breed. It basically means that my work doesn't look like things that exist in real life, but I have a style that can be recognized. Just like when you're looking at Van Gogh, you know those are his strokes. 

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Kandinsky: Composition VII, Chihuly chandelier, Picasso: The Old Guitarist, Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith Slaying Holofernes.  

This week, I was gifted a lovely evening of aesthetic delights. In downtown Boise, we have something known as Freak Alley. What was once the home for dumpsters and smoking restaurant workers (I have been among them), is now a menagerie of painted, airbrushed, and mosaicked works of art, rich with color, depicting a caricatured intersection between nightmare and whimsy. I was struck with an air of youth, as I deconstructed the use of implied motion, color, and environmental installations that were either intentional, or merely convenient. When I took a three dimensional art class in college, we were often challenged to make art out of regular items, even garbage, in order to represent some deeper meaning. During group critique, I was humbled to hear the radical stretch people could concoct from the most simplistic depiction of kitchen utensils. It suddenly became a post-feminist cry to the lost generations of women, held captive by patriarchal oppressors wearing suits, and sipping martinis. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I loved it though. Watching other active minds concoct tales of woe. My professor did his entire master's thesis on Sasquatch. You have to respect that kind of dedication.

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Today, I'm thankful for art. The expression it allows my fellow creators to project upon the world around them- it's not only a gift, but a medicinal script for healing.  I'm thankful for the satisfaction it evokes, as the final stroke whispers, "I'm complete." But most of all, I'm thankful for color. Each hue brings with it a note, so perfectly intricate, that it can make my heart sing, or weep with wonderment. I'm thankful for Freak Alley, a resource of joy for the community at large. For those who minimize the impact of art, they are subjected to it's call while simply walking to dinner. At times, my muse wishes to leap out of my skin, and dance around the sky like a hyperactive sprite. This evening begged for her return to my studio. A cameo, sprinkled in powdered charcoal and a palette of vanilla skies. May she soar. Happy Gratitude Tuesday. What are you thankful for?

AM