Friday, April 4, 2014

The Purpose of Art?

All Souls
Not quite done

Sometimes I get to a clear point where I lay the brush down and know it is done. But there are those paintings which seem to not want to be done. They will sit on the easel for days maybe a week or two and beg me to notice what is yet to be done. It is not always about the balance of color or shape or an overlooked flaw. And, as with All Souls, can be about what I was trying to impart non-verbally.

And I am aware as a writer and an avid reader that it is not possible to write in such a way that everyone gets the message because it can depend so much on where the reader is in their journey. And whether you have engaged them enough to want to follow you in yours. We do not all go the same path.

To me, the painting above, is unfinished because I see some of those picky little flaws which the camera and the computer make so clear. But I have had the opportunity to hear from two of my audience which find the picture unfinished in other ways. One person leaving a comment feels that the ghosts should be going into the church and not along side it. The other friend desperately wants an answer as to where the lost souls are going. Both seem so preoccupied with these two questions they are unwilling to follow my answer.

Which gives rise to the question of whether art show answer all the questions or raise them? Certainly Salvador Dali's art raises lots of questions. And Picasso's Guernica is frankly disturbing  and unsettling even when you know it is about the Spanish Civil War.

There is a period of history in what is now New Mexico where the Catholic Church accompanying the Spanish conquerors built churches with Indian labor over their religious centers - the Kivas. Because of the cruelty of the victors many died and because they were pagans in the eyes of the church they were denied burial on the church grounds. Their souls are forever outside the church. But maybe they are still trying to get back to the kivas, and the spirit hole at its center. Their access to the other world is beneath the altar.

So I find myself debating whether I can somehow get all that into this painting. Or if it is enough that it raised the questions with a few. Is art to make you feel good or match your sofa. Or should it be thought provoking. I think it must engage. The art I most want to take  into my home gives me much to think about. I want to look at it over time and see something new based on where I am in my journey.

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I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.