Monday, December 24, 2007

The Untrimmable Light of the World

Every Christmas eve, after dinner, my family gathers around the fire and each person reads aloud something that has inspired them this year. I share here one of my candidates for tonight’s reading – a poem by Mary Oliver from one of my favorite volumes - a 2007 collection edited by Roger Housden called Dancing with Joy. I wish you a holiday full of "the untrimmable light of the world, and the ocean’s shine."

by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light
It is what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy
and acclamation
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gift Giving and Guerilla Art

One of my favorite parts of the holidays is gift giving – thinking about each person, brainstorming gift ideas for them, making or acquiring the gift, and then wrapping it in colorful paper and ribbons. There is creative thinking and some handiwork involved that is very satisfying to the artist in me. In fact, during the holiday season, I usually derive more pleasure and excitement from the act of giving than the act of receiving.

Lately, I have been thinking more about the relationship between art making and gift giving. One person said to me recently “Art is a gift to society that the artist pays for.” This was a rather world weary response addressing the fact that artists are usually not well compensated financially for their hard work and dedication, and yet the art gets made anyway. My more optimistic attitude is that the artist is compensated in ways other than financial – namely the satisfaction of having expressed something from deep within that in turn can connect and communicate with others, sharing beauty, insight, and new perspectives.

One of the more provocative ways art can be a gift is anonymously. I have been so intrigued by the work of Keri Smith and her recent book, The Guerilla Art Kit. She defines guerilla art as “any anonymous work installed, performed, or attached in public spaces, with the distinct purpose of affecting the world in a creative or thought-provoking way." Her book includes great ideas and tools for guerilla art projects – some as simple as arranging a pattern of leaves in a chain link fence or chalking a favorite quote on the sidewalk. I love the idea of art like this that is ephemeral, generous, and perspective changing. I was delighted to interview Keri for the Arts and Healing Network’s current isuse of AHN News. As Keri explains in this interview…

“Coming across something that is unexpected helps to pull us out of our habitual ways of thinking and reacting to the world. This goes for the creation side of things too - we must tune in to the environment in order to allow it to speak to us and to notice the little things. This, in my opinion, is the greater purpose of art - to pull us out of our unconscious behavior and make us aware of something we might have missed. It asks us to pay attention, and, as I mention in the book, guerilla art says, 'the human spirit is alive here.'"

Keri also writes a wonderful blog, called The Wish Jar, which I often read with my morning coffee before heading to the studio. Her writing reminds me to slow down mentally, think creatively, experience and appreciate the details of nature, and enjoy the exploratory process of creativity. What better gift can art give.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Remnants in Woodstock

Judi and Bernard at the Galerie BMG recently sent me these nice photos of my show, Remnants, which will be up at their gallery until the end of December. It was a treat to get these pictures because unfortunately I am not able to travel to Woodstock to see the show. Thanks to the wonders of digital photography and the internet, I can virtually visit this show even though it is 3000 miles away, and now you can too. To learn more about the exhibition, please click here.