Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Art & Fear -- a review

So, I decided to stop watching TV on weeknights. I have way too much thinking and reading and writing I'd like to do in my lifetime, and since we've been reminded recently that
"We are becoming who we will be -- forever"
I decided I'd better get cracking! I also decided that -- for now anyway -- I'd stop spending a lot of time on other church websites. Don't get me wrong -- this has been a hugely valuable (and fun!) resource for me in my ministry role at church. I've found, however, that it is way too easy to get discontent with what God is doing right here where His Kingdom meets mine in Broome County, NY.

My first goal is complete -- to finish reading this great book, Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I could complete a review in one sentence...


But, maybe you'd like a few more details??

What does the title mean?: It wasn't till the second-to-the-last page that the authors really described this fully. In their words,
The question was: Do artists have anything in common with each other? Like any good question, that one quickly generated a flurry of relatives: How do artists become artists? How do artists learn to work on their work? How can I make work that will satisfy me? For young artists filled with energy and idealism, the answers seemed just around the corner. Only as the years passed did we begin to encounter, with increasing frequency, a much darker issue: Why do so many who start, quit?
Although, I have no reason to believe (or disbelieve) the authors are church attenders or Christ followers, all that they wrote to the artist as an individual could be applied to what we try to do together as a community of artists in the church. I especially appreciated the practical and, yet, thoughtful way the authors 'de-mystified' the process of artmaking and art appreciating. By adding context to statements like, "ARTMAKING INVOLVES SKILLS THAT CAN BE LEARNED" and "ART IS MADE BY ORDINARY PEOPLE" and the fun Q & A spoof,
Q: Will anyone ever match the genius of Mozart?
A: No.Thank you.
Thank you. Now can we get on with our work?
allows the reader to relax and believe that maybe -- just maybe -- this desire to be known as an artist is not just some kind of pie-in-the-sky, what-the-heck-have-you-been-smokin' hoke.
Another myth that gets busted by the authors is the ever-popular artist declaration: "I'm only able to work when I'm feeling inspired!" According to the authors and in the words of my highschool friend, 'That's BULL Ca-Ca!!'
"...artmaking can be a rather lonely, thankless affair. Virtually all artists spend some of their time (and some artists spend virtually all of their time) producing work that no one else much cares about. It just seems to come with the territory. But for some reason -- self-defense, perhaps -- artists find it tempting to romanticize this lack of response [from the art viewer], often by (heroically) picturing themselves peering deeply into the underlying nature of things long before anyone else has eyes to follow.
Romantic, but wrong. The sobering truth is that the disinterest of others hardly ever reflects a gulf in vision. In fact there's generally no good reason why others should care about most of any one artist's work. The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. ... The point is that you learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make art you care about -- and lots of it!
I'm gonna stop here 'cuz I'm afraid to climb on a soapbox!! (And, that's just the first chapter...we haven't even gotten to the 'FEAR' part) I might continue this in my next post...
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