Monday, May 10, 2010

Art and Personal Salvation

Here is a quote from Becoming Human Through Art by Edmund Burke Feldman.

"The perfectionist impulse, manifests itself in primitive and child art as a result of the fear that raw, unadorned reality presents to the unsophisticated person. The child's art acquires a somewhat obsessive quality when he uses it to exorcise demons he cannot otherwise cope with. Contemporary artists, too, attempt to find in the reiteration of certain forms and themes a kind of personal salvation that life somehow withholds."

It seems so often that when I kick and scream against a stereotype about artists and why they create I eventually experience the very behaviors I rail against. In the movie New York Stories, Nick Nolte plays an artist who creates only when he is lonely for Rosanna Arquette's character. He needs the emotional turmoil of his relationships in order to fuel his art. I found this balderdash when I watched it as a young man in his twenties. Now, as a hopefully wiser man in his forties, I understand and have experienced the stress of relationships as a driving force behind creativity.

When I read the quote above about artists searching for personal salvation I normally would scoff a little bit. Art is art, there is no personal salvation to be found here. There is skill that can be fostered, there is vision that can be honed, there is support that can be won, but there is no personal salvation to be gained. Is there?

Is there more personal salvation to be found in creating art than in designing a car, selling a car, or building a car? Are others saved personally through carpentry, cooking, cosmetics? Is there a relationship between personal salvation and art?

Personal salvation does not come from actions you take. Personal salvation comes from accepting yourself while having a clear eye to your strengths and weaknesses. Isn't it a matter of perspective?

Yet here I am feeling a sense of personal salvation from writing stories for The Book of Bartholomew. Perhaps it is not salvation as much as setting something straight. There are times and experiences in my life I would like to revisit and do anew. I am allowed this opportunity through my writing. Perhaps this is a form of salvation -- perhaps it is a way of healing. I am not sure. But somehow I get the sense that soon I will be again experiencing a stereotype that I thought was ridiculous.