I always try to explain to my students the importance of art making. I don’t explain this in a cultural sense but rather a way that will help them grasp what life would be like if we couldn’t make art.
Basically, I teach them Scott McCloud’s definition of art which is that art is anything that does not directly relate to our two basic instincts: survival and reproduction. Though it’s not the perfect definition it broadly explains that we create art all the time without realizing it is art and that idea alone proves that art is a very important aspect of our lives.
Today I noticed a vital moment in which art saved my life and further proved its own value. I have been back in Syracuse, NY for about twenty four hours after living and teaching in Maine for a little over four months. Living in Maine has been a very rewarding yet stressful time and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t day dreaming of coming back home at least once a day. Now that I’m back I’ve rediscovered the stressors in Syracuse that my subconscious had politely been hiding from me.
After going to a mediocre Syracuse University basketball game my family and a few friends went to Doc’s Little Gem Diner which is one of my favorite spots for a late night bite to eat. After ordering our food I managed to have about three separate scuffles with my brother who I often times have issues seeing eye to eye with. Rather than continuing this trend I quietly pulled a pen from my pocket and grabbed a napkin from its dispenser. I took a vow of silence and about 15 minutes after it began this little creation had worked its way from my brain, to my hand, to the napkin:
This simple sketch gave me a sense of accomplishment that helped me bring my brain back to “rational thought” mode. My relationship with my family will always be screwed up no matter what I do and I only have two options:
1) Change my name, embezzle large sums of money from an unsuspecting organization, transfer it to a Swiss bank account, move to back to Australia, live happily ever after eating caramel slices and tim tams
2) Find a way to deal with those interactions and focus on making the most out of the time I have away from my family
As lovely as the first option sounds the second one seems a bit more realistic. My way of dealing with them is and always will be my art making. Since I know that, and I’ll always have that, my family relationship issues can now be set on the back burner until I need to deface another napkin for my sanity.
So once again, art saved my life. A Pollock painting didn’t quite mate with a Kubelka film to spawn a character that saved me from a burning building but a little sketch did help me further realize why art is so important to me.
Goodnight Fellow Artists (you are one whether you admit it or not),