Sunday, May 11, 2008

Musings on Art

To me it is just beyond reach. It cannot be defined and it can't be kept. When you've known it even just a little, it's something that is longed for the rest of your life. It's a connection that hums deep and low and harmonizes with the spirit. I want to paint it, I want to make that kind of art.
Art is a word much like love. Love is used on so many levels, I can love crackerjacks and I can love, well...a lot deeper as well. Art is like that too. It is a word used in so many ways for too many things. The art that I'm talking about is sacred and mysterious, not diluted or caffeine free.
The other day, one of my girlfriends called me after returning from seeing one of my very favorite bands, the Stars. She said it was so beautiful, one of the most transcendental moments of her life and she just stood there and cried. I've felt like that before in regard to certain artworks. One of those experiences, in a New Jersey museum at night, in front of some paintings. I've cried in the Met before, and I know I'm not the only one. Art is powerful. It's a power that pulls on the soul. It can tap into what can't be named, the sublime. (Not he who can't be named, i.e. Voldmort.) Art is a tool.
Shouldn't there be another name for it? I don't think that all people who paint are artists. I sometimes have a hard time saying I'm an artist sometimes because I don't think I'm worthy. I call myself a painter more easily. I can only talk about paintings because that is what I know. I don't think all paintings are art. A lot of what I see is just decoration and is decoration art? My Dan Barney would probably theorize about visual culture and a way of living, but I want art to be that special, unique something to grasp and live and work for, for the rest of my life. I know someone who makes art that merges concepts of family and history and craft, but she won't call it art. I think it is. I understand that it would be dangerous to put perimeters and rules on it, so many have tried before.
If artwork is created with sincerity I think I trust it. I wish everybody who makes things would be responsible for that which they are creating. Not all of us have the same capacity/knowledge base, sure, but if images are used, doesn't the creator have an obligation to try to have ownership of what she/he puts out there? Shouldn't she/he make it her/his own as well?
The drawing above illustrates how I often feel when painting and talking about my sincere feelings. I think in order to even have a chance at creating paintings that can be what I have described above, I have to thrust my vulnerable exposed self forward. My ambitions are beyond decoration, I want to make art and that's almost always just beyond reach.

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Kate Horowitz said...

When I was in high school I used to get so mad at Emily Dickinson, she who dared call herself a poet. I even wrote furious poetry about it. And now, not so many years later, when looking for a word that describes my goals, my hobbies, my lifestyle, my outlook, I invariably and sheepishly reach for "poet". I don't know that I'll ever deserve it, but it's something to shoot for.

ps here's to crying at the Met.

Nigel said...

I think art, like love, is central to human experience. Like love, our quality and quantity of experiences with it vary a lot.I always hated the "What is art?" discussions. They never seemed to get anywhere. I think you just have to live it and feel it.

I also think there is a generation of art educators who have done a lot of kids the disservice of asking the question too early. By the time they're old enough to truly process the concepts, they're jaded and and thinking "Oh, not this again...."

Nicholas said...

Very well put!

Cassandra Barney said...

Kat- you are a poet. Dan Barney talks about art as a way of living. Plus, titles are fixed and come with baggage. I think from now on I'm just going to say "'m interested in art."

Nigel- You are right, love and art and there is no use talking about it. I just get my feathers ruffled by some people's irresponsibility, arrogance and lack of knowledge and sincerety.

Kids shouldn't be learning rules, they should be enjoying.


Nicholas-Hi, How are you?

Nicholas said...

I'm doing well. Thanks!

I just got my copy of Segullah. It's wonderful to see your work (and that of your sister) in such a context. Can't wait to read it when I get home.

I'm very jealuos of your garden, by the way! Some day, when I grow up...

I await the painting,
"Cassandra's Peanut Plants" or "Cassandra in her Garden"! Though, I guess if your plants are only an inch tall, there's not much
to paint...

Happy gardening (and painting)!

I Am said...

Cass, I think creative people are overly precious and possesive about the term "Art". For me art is anything which resonates with the joy of being. Regardless of the surface emotions, if a deeper presence of peace and joy can be felt then it is "Art". Therefore art can exist in any occupation or activity that humans are capable of and is not limited to what we commonly see as "Art". We can live artfully every moment.....

Cassandra Barney said...

Nicholas- I'm going to paint a garden indeed. It's one of my paintings for the Tree of Life show with my dad and sister in CT this fall. Good call. I'd say I'll send you some produce but that would be putting the wagon before the horse.

A- living artfully is just what Dan Barney would say. I think that's one big part of it. I still have this branch that I hang onto that's about something special and beautiful and unexplainable.

I Am said...

Perhaps what is special and beautiful about Art is that it allows us to manifest our spirit in form. I can't think of any place outside of Art where this can be done. I feel an aching sense of gratitude for being allowed that, and it must be why there is such an indescribable and incomparable satisfaction from the making of art.


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