Sunday, June 11, 2006

Art and the Human Spirit

I just finished reading "In the Land of Temple Caves", by Frederick Turner. In this little gem of a book, Turner explores the role of Art as a fundamental process to the human condition, one that elevates man above the rubble and detritus of man's cruelty and selfishness.

His argument is provocative, in that his exploration of the paleolithic cave art of France and Spain reveals a sophistication and emplacement of Art as of central importance to the societies of early man. So important as to suggest that Art itself may have been - perhaps still is - the prime gesture that man uses to express his desire for all things spiritual, and may have been central to the evolution of the species.

Turner goes on to suggest that the carnage and cruelty of recent history is symptomatic of a species totally out of communion with its primal, earth-centric, Art-focussed roots. He goes further, to indict the phenomenon of the "art world" in western culture, which tends to seperate and further alienate Every Man from true Art through the aegis of a caste system that rewards insiders with access and shuns the non-professional, outsider Artist.

If I am to take away some gleanings from this book that are applicable to my daily life, it would be that the idea of 'folk-art' is not a mere marginalized sub-category, used by the elite of the professional art world to speak down to those who are not well-connected. Rather, the idea that folk-art is, literally, the Art of the People. Its the only True Art, in the sense that it's a most genuine byproduct of a life given over to an honest dialog and communion with the spiritual.

As such, I should reconsider my work in pinhole photography in the light of the folk-artist. To approach the role of the creative in our private lives is to bend, like gentle grasses against the oncoming breeze, yet not break; to search for the spiritual through creativity, and not permit predefined categories and genres to stifle or limit the possibilities.

For the possibilities, they are endless, as is the wind or the sea.

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~Joe

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