Art-making is an exploration of the soul, using tools and techniques that make visible things that are invisible. That’s why I believe, along with all my creative family, that it is an essential part of human progress and awareness of the fluidity of our place in the Universe.
For reasons that even some of us “creative” may not fully understand, we are driven to make images that serve as symbols of feelings, realizations, prophesies, and memories - states of mind or heart whose precious life can only exist within those metaphors.
In a world that is increasingly dominated by the rigidities of measure, calculation, and control, art-making is a counter-balancing process, pushing back at this relentless external pressure on individuals and collectives to march robotically in lock-step.
It’s on the open playground of the imagination that we find our highest energies and joy – in solo work or in creative cooperation with others.
Of course, artists of all media have experienced each other’s cross-pollinating energy from time immemorial. It’s probably only relatively recently that formal boundaries and definitions in the life of the creative impulse have even come to being. I imagine our ancestors made little or no distinction between rhythm and bodily decoration, between singing and drawing, between worship and dance.
All art is symbolism. What real boundaries exist between the experience of music, the manipulation of color or form, or dancing and singing? Do not all the art forms move the emotions in similar fashion? Did the ancient cave wall painters do their work in silence? I can only imagine them in the flickering light of drumming and singing.
All the arts, like all the people, are originally - and ultimately - One.
So, what a fertile prospect is the idea of actually evoking, by our own creation, a creative response in another artist! Happens all the time, though not often in an organized, concerted manner.
A couple of years ago, the Writers Group of the Triad proposed to the Creative Center – a community with a large visual arts element - a collaborative project wherein the writers would select one or a few art pieces from which to draw inspiration for a literary response: poem, short story, or essay.
The process allowed one week between viewing the art and presenting the writings to the combined group of artists and writers.
Not only were the writers’ pieces wholly independent works of high caliber in their own right, but without exception they took the experience of viewing the painting or sculpture to an entirely different level.
As one of the participating artists myself, it was so refreshing and revelatory to see my own work through the concentrated imaginative focus of an artist whose symbolic language is words. I was deeply moved by the sensitivity and emotional range of these writers. To be honest, I was humbled by the sense that they had surpassed the quality of my own original impulse and execution. As if my painting was a mere spark for a creative fire that leaped out from the writer’s imagination.
We all had the sense that this experience was simply too rich and valuable to keep to ourselves, and we will be making efforts to open the next gathering to a wider audience from the community.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll turn it around and the artists make a piece in response to a poem? Or, we’ll shuffle the board and bring musicians to the mix.
This creative interweaving has no limits, and the potential combinations are exciting to ponder.
Yes, this is what we should be doing.