August 30, 2013

Favorite Quotes #2 - Why Make Art?

"Oh, it's outrageous to consider creating art, isn't it? But life is short. And intense. And we need art to inspire and amuse us."
by Lisa Halpern, in "insight: the cornish magazine", 2010.  Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle

This is a brand new favorite quote, not one of my old stand-bys, found last night while musing over college promo materials before chucking them in the recycle bin.

Both my kids have visited Cornish, and neither decided to go there.  But, boy oh boy, do I want to go there!  The school seems to really value and emphasize the artsy-ness of being an artist, that it is more than making objects and performances, but is a way of life, a way of looking at everything.  And the school really honors and feeds interdisciplinary thinking.  I'd love it!  (I have no affiliation, just have toured the campus...)

Anyhow, I have two out of two creative, artsy kids, plus me.  So I've thought a lot about "why make art."  And that concept of what art brings to our lives is key - I'd add joy, connection, insight, self-knowledge, beauty, and probably many other things to Lisa Halpern's inspiration and amusement.

One of my favorite things is when someone tells me what one of my art quilts means to them, and it's something that totally never crossed my mind during the design process.  I like the feeling of having touched someone deeply and helping them learn more about themselves and who they are and how they respond to the world.

The quilt that accompanies this post is called "Nature's Perspective."  I was inspired during an evening drive through the farm fields of Wisconsin.  It seemed to me like we were almost floating through the silent blue air, and that the fields could billow right up, too, were it not for the houses and trees holding them down, like the ties on a comforter.

It's a big quilt - 107" x 81", made way back in the last century, 1989.  I chose the blocks "Corn and Beans" and "Prairie Queen," and my husband helped me draft the blocks in perspective.  (By the way, every single shape in those fields is unique.)  The sky, colored to represent the setting sun, is half of the Sunburst pattern.

What my friend Jon said, after studying it for a while, is that I had made a great rendition of something he's always marveled at - the contrast between the irregularity and textures of the earth and everything that lives here and the smooth dome of the sky - in this quilt, the contrast between the many shapes and fabrics on the fields and the one-patch pattern in the sky.  That was never my intention, and so meaningful and poetic.  That's what I love about making art.

(And, in case anyone is wondering, my daughter picked University of the Arts in Philly, graduated last May with a BFA in modern dance performance and an award for superior choreography.  She and her budding dance company are producing a show in September.  Any dance lovers in the Philly area?  Tix are available at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  My son is continuing to homeschool, focusing right now on video game programming, amongst many other areas of interest like acting, video production and editing, and sound design.)

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