A few days ago while perusing the shelves at my local library, my eye was caught by a small book called Art and Soul by Thomas McConeghey. I was immediately hooked by the first paragraph of the Foreword, written by Thomas Moore:
“We have not yet rediscovered the place of art in human life. We still marginalize artists, treat works of art as financial commodities and objects of moral scrutiny, and fail to support art in our schools. I say rediscover because once, before our infatuation with technology and science, we understood the role of art in religion, public life, and individual psychology. We knew that compared to endless studies and research programs, art was a more precise and effective way of conjuring the mysteries that define our lives. But in a relatively short time, we have been seduced away from art by the cool devotees of the machine, and this neglect of art not insignificantly has gone on hand in hand with a cultural loss of soul.”
There is much that can be said about the many ideas in this single rich paragraph, but one thing that really struck me was his expression of something I see as an ongoing problem in our society. No matter what else happens or how many times it’s pointed out, there always seems to be an ever-increasing emphasis on acquisition and consumption, to the detriment of our planet. I’m no less susceptible than anyone else. I got a new smartphone last December and am still completely enthralled with the thing. Has it made my life better? Doubtful. Although I don’t get lost going to a new place or forget things on my calendar like I used to, I’m pretty sure that having the ability to constantly check my email while away from home is a net loss for my cognitive facilities.
Art, on the other hand, is a calming influence. Any amount of time, great or small, spent painting or stitching or just organizing things in my studio, is my therapy and lets me recover my balance. I’m grateful to have this in my life.
So-Called Vital Activity, 24 x 24 inches, acrylic and mixed media on panel, ©2011 Deidre Adams
One of the dilemmas faced by artists is the multitude of available ways in which we might wish to express ourselves. Am I a fiber/textile artist? Am I a painter? Photographer? Printmaker? It’s so vexing to have to choose. But it’s so wonderful to have choices. Right now I have three textile pieces pinned up on my wall that I’ve been working on in rotation for many months. One of them is a very large piece that I entered into Quilt National. I was, frankly, relieved when it wasn’t selected for the show, because I have had that experience – enter multiple pieces, and the jurors will pass over your fabulous masterpiece and select the one you thought was the weakest and just included so you could have a body of work to submit. Since the work in question was rejected, I’ve changed it substantially several times. But it’s just not working for me, and I haven’t figured out what to do yet.
So in the meantime, I’m having a blast just painting. There is a lot of new work to show, and I’ll be posting new paintings on a regular basis for a while. Does this mean I’m not going to do textiles any more? In the short term, quite possibly. But since I seem to crave variety, I’m sure I’ll go back to it when my current love affair for squishy, swirly, drippy paint on a smooth, resistant surface subsides.