In these, our apparent last days, no artist that I know of is thinking of creating art for the ages. It seems we are all working with remnants of nature or some sadly remaindered aspect of our dying culture. In my work I am seeing only the last bits and pieces of our once thriving planet against the background of the now ghostly geometry of abandoned city streets.
I was born with the gift of slow eyes, tuned in to another pace of living than the one willed on us by today’s culture. Delacroix said that if you see someone falling from a second story window you should be able to draw him before he hits the ground. But Delacroix was a visual journalist who covered the wars. He chronicled what was happening in the active world. I am more interested in the inactive world. I would like to chronicle what doesn’t happen, or what doesn't appear to be happening. Like Giorgio Morandi, who painted the way that dust and light settled on his shelves. Another world is encountered at this speed. No roving tigers or slashing scimitars, only the gentlest movement of the rotation of the spheres and the settling of motes in sunshine.
Reliquaries were created in Medieval times for the preserved remnants of Apostles and Saints. The merest finger bone of one who was known to be holy was held sacred, and a box or container of some sort was fashioned to house it.
Today, we don't do that so much anymore. As Bob Dylan once sang, "It's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred." Or held sacred anyway. In our culture we tend less towards preserving what might be holy than towards destruction of... almost everything. As Joni Mitchell (almost) once said,
We paved Paradise
Blew up the parking lot
The level of violence in our times, towards each other and the planet itself, is unprecedented, leading many to look around in despair and begin to wonder where all the holiness went. I believe that it remains all around us, often at our very feet, in the rubble of our destruction, in the residue of our culture, for holiness is inherent in all things, however abused and mistreated. For those of us called to sift the detritus, I would like to share a Buddhist story:
It was the job of a young monk to rise early every day to sweep the temple, and he was growing weary of the work. So one day he set aside his broom, approached his master and said to him, "We hold that the Buddha nature is inherent in all things, even in the smallest speck of dust, but if this is so, why must I sweep the dust from the temple each day?" His master replied, "It is true that the Buddha nature is inherent in all things, and you do well to take note of it. Our job is simply to make it more apparent. Please keep sweeping."
Creating this art, for me, is a lot like temple-sweeping. The purpose is to make the inherent holiness that I see in all things more apparent for anyone who cares to look.
I am an artist. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.