Friday, July 11, 2014

art

It is quite late in the evening after a full day that has left my mind overflowing, it is time for bed, but I need to write first.  I sit down at my table and open a notebook, words about my day flow out.  They begin simple and then become increasingly flowery and abstract.  I turn the page, a fresh sheet of paper and fresh thoughts. 

On the table next to me is a stack of old dictionaries, I have gathered them here and there.  I pick one up and begin to page through.  I love the delicate pages of this book and the light aroma of must arising from them as I flip -- I love paper, the handling of something tangible.  I turn again to the front of the book, it was published in 1953.  I flip forward again and find my word, ART.  In 1953 Webster defined it this way: human ability to make things; creativeness.  I page on; who is an artist: a person who works or is skilled in any of the fine arts, especially graphic arts. 

I close the book and pick up another, in 1935 art was this: the employment of means to the accomplishment of some end; and an artist: one skilled in any branch of high art.

I move on again, now picking up a slight book with a delicately embossed cover, on the back of the third page; copyright, 1877.  I pause, this book is older than I realized.  How far removed I am from those numbers and how captivated by them.  How, after the passage of so much time, did this small book come to arrive in my hands -- that is art.

I begin to page through slowly.  The words are tiny and accompanied by tiny, intricately rendered illustrations; acorn on page 8; air pump on page 13, and on page 22, art, no illustration: cunning or skill.  Artist: the professor of an art

Such formality, if only one of these tidy definitions communicated what it means to be an artist , if only it could capture the meaning of the art we make. 

My favorite was found in 1953: human ability to make things, creativeness.  This definition is just broad enough to mean something.  I love the inherent quality that it captures, it is a human to make and making is inherently creative.

Made like these decades old books I am holding, absorbing their ideas and compiling them into something else.  What is making but the transforming of objects or materials into something new, the process of looking, absorbing and deciding.  Producing things that elicit new ideas, new feelings, new experiences.  There is no obligation to be restrained by the bounds of beauty or academics.  At its core making is a process and it is through process that we discover; new worlds and new selves. 

With gratitude,
Joanna

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