Crossing Art Boundaries

My friend Andi was touched by my Yom Kippur post, and sent it to several of her relatives.  Her Uncle Jerry tried to comment on my post, but had trouble making that work, and sent me an email instead.  His comments about my blog are wonderfully flattering and complimentary, and I’m copying what he wrote here not just because it’s so positive (although that’s certainly part of it), but also because he draws a connection between what he read in my words and his own art of photography.  “Here is a truly brilliant and sensitive human being who has honed her craft by education, insight and the mystical gift of genetics to paint spectacular images with her words.  She is indeed an artist and we have so much more to learn by seeing the world through her eyes. In Japan they have individuals with exceptional talents that are declared national treasures by the government.  Grace certainly qualifies for that accolade. In photography I continually search for new ways of “seeing” but never thought of looking to a poet for guidance. In the words of Marcel Proust:  ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in finding new landscapes but in having new eyes.'”

While I love the idea of being a “national treasure,” I’m most flattered that my writing speaks to how he tries to capture images through photography.  (Check out his photographs at his website.)  When I was at Vermont Studio Center in the summer of 2007, one of the most nourishing aspects of my time there were the conversations with visual artists.  Over lunch one day a painter said to me, “I think poetry and painting are the most closely related arts,” and we talked about that for an hour.  One evening after an artist’s slide show, a young man and I talked at length about how we do, or don’t, put ourselves in our art, what is self-referential, how do we make that universal, what exactly is art?

Whatever it is, art feeds art in unexpected and important ways.  Last week two friends from my writing group came here so we could all work on some visual art, as a way to use a different part of our brains than writing taps into, hoping to open that writing tap in new ways.  Anne painted her dog, Pat made a 3-D collage, I worked on an altered book collage (using the pages of an existing book for collage, writing, drawing, structural cut-outs) and David worked on photographic images at his computer.  We went from a lively, chatty dinner into the studio, turned to our art, and were silent.  For over an hour we were all absorbed in our creation, intent and focused, bringing something out of our brains and into the world.

I love that my writing can bring something out of my brain, then explode into new ideas and creativity in someone else’s brain.  Art, whether painting or writing, photography or collage, sculpture or ceramics or drawing, is best when it brings us to a new understanding, whether of the world and how to see it, or a puzzle in our own minds.  Whether or not we articulate that new insight through words or painting or collage doesn’t matter, it only matters that we let the expression into the world, and see what it can make happen.

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