Nearly two years ago, I was taking a walk with my two-and-a-half year old granddaughter.
During that happy walk she shouted out, “Everybody makes a noise”. She then squealed loudly, and said immediately, “That’s my noise.”
In that instant, she ran down the sidewalk, and I called out to her. “Wait for me!”
She responded, “That’s papa’s noise.”
It occurred to me in that moment that she was right, of course. We all make a noise in our lives. We all want to be heard and understood above the din. And in that strange way, we are all artists.
Children sometimes speak profound truths.
But to be clear, my shout back to her will not be heeded (at least in the long run). She won’t wait for me — she has a different path in life. My granddaughter will have her own concerns and struggles, joys and loves. And my path will always seem old and outdated, with trivial fears and anxieties, and with triumphs, pleasures, and loves that pale to her own. My words won’t reach too deeply into her world. But, in good times or in bad, someone’s art — mine or more likely that of another — will find a way to touch her more intimately, and comfort her in difficult times and delight her in better times.
And so, I humbly implore: Present your own truths to others. Go make YOUR noise.
My grandchildren may need it someday.
I’ve learned quite a bit during my years of photography. I’ve learned how to set up and expose a photograph so that I can capture almost all the information that my camera and lens is capable of capturing. The equipment has become, in fact, the real limitation on the information I can get out of a scene.
Still, when it comes down to it, the megabits of information doesn’t really matter that much. I need to remember that the next time fancy equipment beckons. Capturing detail is not the reason I photograph. Communication of meaning, emotion, and feeling is the real point of my photography.
In an expressive art, it’s not the bits of information, it’s the bits of soul that matter. And thankfully that isn’t found in a camera or lens. It is found deep inside though. And I still need quite a bit of improvement there.
Many people question the need for art. It isn’t necessary, they say. We can lead full and thoughtful lives without it.
We, as humans, categorize and order our world according to rules we develop from within ourselves or inherit from others. We learn to put everything in its place. If I say the word, “elephant,” I’m sure that we all think of the large grey mammal with a trunk, large ears, flat padded feet, and leathery skin. Since childhood we are trained to put everything “elephant-like” into the same “elephant box”.
Such a process is good for us as individuals. We don’t have to reinvent the world every time we open our eyes. We can make sense of the reality around us.
But there is a downside to this type of thinking though. We come to believe that our way of thinking is the way the world actually exists. We righteously assure ourselves that orange and pink elephants don’t exist. We soon fail to see the world from other perspectives, and forget that we make decisions based upon self-imposed boxes.
And so many of our problems stem from that.
We need artists — independent-thinking and even one-eared artists. Because they paint stars swirling wildly in the night-time sky and yellow-green faces. Because they create the art of our dreams and nightmares. We need those types of art, and all Art … to wake us from our self-assured slumber.
And then maybe, just maybe … we might notice an entire herd of orange and pink pachyderms … grazing in the glow of the setting savannah sun.
Art reminds us that reality lives and breathes outside the box.