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Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is an artist?

What is an artist? I don’t know. I do know the question is right up there with, “What is God?” An artist sees and too often feels a little more than most of us and that can take its toll. Many have fallen because they could not reconcile their view of reality with the world‘s view. Remember when you were a kid? Everyone praised your work and said, “You’re going to be an artist” and you were so proud, but can you remember how you felt? Not just the pride, can you remember the first time you felt the creative spirit, the fire that burned within?

It’s difficult to explain to folks that you must create, you have no choice. You must create in anyway possible with whatever you have. Somebody somewhere had to decide that you could make a picture out of macaroni. It may seem trite and childish but someone had that idea - an artist. It’s no different from the first caveman - and why not cavewoman? - picking up a piece of burnt wood and making the first drawing on the rock wall.

Who are we? What are we? Why do we have these visions? Maybe the easiest answer is not to answer but to keep on creating. I remember as a child being enthralled by colors, smells, textures and lights. I loved black velvet. Today with all of the cheap imports in the stores many young people have never seen really good fabric. But, back-in-the-day, velvet, wool and silk were luxurious items and you could see and feel their quality. My mother would take my sister and me “downtown” to see the Christmas window displays. The stores competed to create the most elaborate holiday theme. Do you remember the thousands of Starlings that flew from building to building at dusk, singing and chirping as they flew in the evening sky and the thousands of butterflies during the day and fireflies at night?; what a wondrous delight for a child. Do you realize how much beauty has been taken from our daily lives and how art is underfunded in our schools? Art is also a struggle. It is a fight to keep beauty in the world and we are its foot soldiers.

We are often called strange, weird “out there” don’t take it lying down. You help the world to see. You not only create but continue the line of creation from the beginning of time and often unearth the ugly in the world to make us appreciate beauty even more. Oh, and by the way, artists are not necessarily creampuffs. Quite a few of us have been known to be militant in our art and many a conquering general was also a calligrapher, painter or poet. You don’t need to define yourself to anyone. The Creator didn’t put you here by mistake. That power is in you, use it!

Daniel T. Brooking


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