A Call to Make Art

chagall
After the election, I expressed my shock to an artist friend. She said, “I felt like a character in a Chagall painting flying over the landscape,” which I thought captured the sense of disembodiment so beautifully. 

There was a year I made a series of papier-mâché angels and gave them to my best friends for their Christmas trees. Somehow I did not think to make one for myself, and the top of my tree is bare. I have a lifelong habit of making things and giving them away. The final act of creation is always release. Because art is communication. An offering.

Sometimes we make meaning, and sometimes the offering is simply one of beauty, here is this thing I made. One thing I know for sure about myself is that I am compelled to create. The good stuff, the resonant and universal, comes from a place past consciousness, pulled up through the strata, dragging remnants of those other layers with it. Here is this core piece of me, perhaps one that resides inside of you, too. These extractions of truth are the rare finds. More often I am sifting dirt, sometimes discovering a piece of sandstone, a shard of shale.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. The art we make, whether the simple papier-mâché angel that sits atop the tree, or the resonant piece of writing that’s been labored over for months, is vital–crucial even. Especially now. Amidst the chaos and the vitriol, we must make art. Where they are divisive, we create connection.

No matter your chosen medium, whether your art is big or small, public or private, I call on you to create. Keep going. Hone your craft. Wield your words. Maybe you need to shout and curse or type in caps. Maybe you’re smearing a canvas with wild brushstrokes or playing a violin or knitting a scarf or adorning your home with winterberries. Whatever compels you, whatever asks to made, make that thing. Drag it up from your core through the strata of your being. Excavate truth. This is your healing. This is your resistance. This is your self-song. This is the way forward.

(Post 312 of 365)

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It’s an odd process finding one true thing to say about myself every day. Truth can be simple but doesn’t come easy. Possible threads drift through my thoughts daily, but I don’t always want to write into them. I was twelve years old the first time I ever boarded a plane alone. I believe that singing a song you love at the top of your lungs can be a form of prayer. I talk to trees and plants. Zoos and other places that imprison wildlife make me weep. One of the reasons I stay home with my toddler is so that she can be in the dirt and fresh air, on the beach and under trees. I struggle with the way writing pulls me away from my daughter and my husband. When I was twenty-one, I visited Cezanne‘s studio in the south of France, crouched on a hillside with my canvas while the wind blew dirt and twigs into my oil paints, and I painted my own Mont Sainte-Victoire.