Sunday, June 23, 2024

The unstoppability of art and other vital requirements

This huge and stunning work, a kind of sacred altar, created from all kinds of scrap and found objects covered in foil, was exhibited years back, I think in the Met, though now it's in the Smithsonian.

It's breathtaking seen in person. I saw it and have never forgotten it, the power and energy. The artist had no "formal" training. What James Hampton had was the great vision and insight of an artist driven by his own force.  A visionary  artist, he had no interest in the art world, nor in exhibiting for its own sake, and certainly no interest in making his mark in the world. Far from needing encouragement, he never talked about his art.

This fits in with a discussion I've been involved in lately, about art and the, I think groundless, fears that too many tech inventions and content discourage and suffocate new art.

It's similar to the complaints I used to hear from adult students that they'd been put off as kids  by teachers or relatives who discouraged them. They signed up  in mid life to learn to draw in my classes and did learn. They also repaired some of the damage to their self confidence from comments when they were kids.

I was glad to guide them into finding and enjoying their own art and realizing they didn't need to qualify in some way. But when they looked at the years they'd "wasted" when they could have been making art, maybe even making a life in art, I refrained from comment.

The fact is that you can't stop a real artist. I got plenty of discouragement as a kid from teachers who told me I drew wrong (!), no access to materials, wartime, poor family. Later prevented by school from art classes in favor of ancient Greek classes.  It would never have occurred to me to stop making art, anyway, from whatever I could find or hack, whenever I could do it. 

I need to make,  as much as to breathe or eat. This is situation normal for makers.  It's not special nor heroic or anything fancy like that. Writers, dancers, musicians, included.

I wrote tons of stuff outside of school, made up tunes, made clothes for dolls from any old scraps, drew and painted on anything I could find, with anything I could find.  

Artist friends agree that we'd do all this on a desert island, with no-one to show it to. Showing and selling just free up  space, mental and physical, to work. They're not the point of making art. 

So I never think we've missed out on a great artist, musician, writer, dancer, because their early life didn't pave their way. They'd pave their own way, really, if necessary.   You can have such a rich and happy  life, without any external supports, if you have the maker gene. It's not about getting famous, it's about making what you're supposed to make, or as close as you can get to it.

Very intense here today, must be the heat. Heat index well into three figures. 

I did some cooking,  making ingredients for various meals. Sauteed baby bella mushrooms and chard, steamed carrots, to be used in various ways.

Lunch was a mushroom chard omelette with carrot side. I think there will be pasties tomorrow with similar ingredients. Different ways of eating the same things! I must make yogurt, too.  I use it to make the pastry for pasties.

I did make potato salad using the new batch of mayo, with chives and scallions. Hot weather puts a dent in a person's appetite, important that what you do eat be valuable food. Sez me anyway! 

I'm very dogmatic today! Happy day everyone, have your say, because nobody else can have your say.




 

21 comments:

  1. And Hampton came up with such a catchy name for his masterpiece. Such a shame how children’s (and adults’) creativity and confidence can be stifled.

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    1. His title is practically an essay in itself! The everyday stuff he coopted into this work is amazing. Anything that didn't run away.

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  2. True story. When I was a kid, I tried so hard to draw. And I was abysmal. Even the stick figures were bad. My cousin Patty, three years younger, was gifted in art, even at the age of six or seven. My mother gently explained that we have different gifts. could write. Patty could draw. It ticked me off and I worked like crazy to teach myself -- and of course, mom got behind me, getting me art books and drawing with me. I copied and I learned. Six decades later, I still write (and made a living at it) but I also create and sell my paintings and cards from them. It's not a job, it's a passion that ebbs and flows with others. No, when you have the drive, you find it. But that said, the art, the skills, can be acquired at any age. I'm also a massive proponent of art therapy for those dealing with loss and trauma. This is a very thought-provoking post, Boud. And, I love the piece you shared.

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    1. I'm glad you got value from what I wrote. I agree skills can be learned, which is why I taught adults for so long. You can't teach vision, art. But helping with the skills enables the person to develop their own vision.

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  3. Agree with you about the makery gene but have always wondered how or why other people don't have something they want to make/create/express in some way. It doesn't have to be makery per se; dance, sporting outlets, gardening are all expressive and still there are folks who seem to elect not to imagine in any obvious way.

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    1. That's a continuing mystery to me, too. But maybe they're content to be the audience?

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  4. It's true that passion and drive are unstoppable forces, whether in art or other endeavours! When it comes to art, I'm a hobbyist, not an artist. But I had that passion and drive when it came to discovering my true self and living an authentic life.

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    1. You've definitely done that. Can't always have been easy, but it's who you are, what you're about.

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  5. What a beautiful little essay on art and the making thereof. I have always been the same with writing. Even when all I wrote was letters, I wrote them with all my heart.

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  6. Yes, I think you're right. I was that way about writing. I did it even when I was the only one who read it -- you couldn't have stopped me if you'd tried.

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    1. Exactly! I'm guessing that even if all your blog readers decamped, you'd still need to write daily.

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  7. I have a tee shirt that says, I take pictures because I can't draw (or something to that effect).

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    1. Yes, it's going to happen one way or another!

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  8. We have a granddaughter who is a writer. We encourage her every way we can. Thanks for the advice about the artists, Boud.

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    1. That's good. I hope her parents are encouraging, too.

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  9. There's creativity in everyone, expressed in different ways through various media, though seem blessed with it in abundance.

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  10. If we are talking about passion in what you do or care deeply about, that can encompass many things. Mark is an ardent tennis player. It's not art, but it is a passion. Some people are passionate about their job/career. I had a passion for animals. Not all passion for a thing is artistic, but it is still a passion. I'm not an artist, but I am creative in other ways and I think this is true for many. I do understand the deep need for artists to create their art.

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  11. Need is the exact right word here.

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  12. "I need to make, as much as to breathe or eat"...how true those words are, at least in my experience anyway. I can't sit and do nothing and am driven to create something, whether it be sewing, knitting, or crocheting. I still have a difficult time calling myself an 'artist' after having so many years of being told that what I do is 'craft'. I am slowly learning to separate knitting/crochet into the craft category but am referring to my landscapes as being art. I even caught myself calling myself a 'fabric artist' when I was talking with someone the other day and managed not to backtrack into craft. Yay, me!

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    1. Those distinctions are a bit of a trap. I tend to avoid them, because they generate more heat than light.

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