Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why Do I Make Art?

I have been reading almost all of the the PD James novels, and in several of them she mentions time, and how virtually all of our lives are in the past. No sooner do we say the word "second" then the second is gone. I've been pondering this observation and found it disconcerting. I've heard of "living in the now" and "there is nothing but the present moment", but this is a different way of seeing it, like everything is gone before it can even be grasped.
I started thinking about making art and why I like doing it, and how it relates to the temporal nature of things. Making art is a kind of record of living. It's something that I make in the present moment, but it doesn't slip into the past. It carries on into the future, and will probably even live beyond me. Most of our records of ancient civilizations come from pieces of art that they have left behind.
A few summers ago I went to Las Vegas and rather than spend the time in the casinos burning money, I decided to take a trip to see one of the local wonders. This place was called The Valley of Fire and it's a state park. It is a fabulous place in the desert with huge stone formations that look like giant wailing faces, formed by sand, wind and time. When the sun gets down low enough, it sets the stones on fire, glowing red like they have been heated in a kiln. In one place a staircase has been erected to the top of one of the stones, and there are some hieroglyphics there, left by an ancient race. Up on that rock, there is a small piece of art left behind, to show that someone was there, though all other traces are long gone. Much to my dismay some modern "artists" left a few drawings there too. Maybe this was their way of saying "you were here, and I was here too". "How did the Indian artist get to the top of the stone?" we are left to wonder, and ponder, who this person was, and how he lived. What motivated him or her to find a way to the top of the stone, and leave a drawing there?
This is part of the pull of art for human kind. I remember reading somewhere, awhile back, about a quilter from colonial times that said something like "I've always had the name of being a good housekeeper, but when I'm gone, no one will remember the floors I've swept and scrubbed or the tables I've dusted. But this here quilt, this here quilt, will be something to remember me by."


cindydolezaldesigns said...

Wow. I love this post. This here bead. This here bead will be something to remember me by.

Shaterra Clay said...

Right! It's kind of cool to think about my beads somewhere in 2030, maybe being re-strung into a modern necklace, a vintage "art" bead, artist unknown (or maybe I'll be famous then???)