Saturday, July 4, 2020

My Future

Why do people make art? What is art?

Broadly defined, art is human effort to create and perpetuate culture. What is culture? The aesthetic and intellectual achievements of humanity. They are an inheritance from our ancestors. And our obligation to future generations. Culture separates our species from other animals. "[C]ulture husbands its liveliness in its works of art, they are like storage barrels for" imagination (p. 253).

Should you or I make art? Yes, and we do it all the time, whether we realize it or not. Writing a personal letter, selecting pieces for a clothing outfit, crafting a pumpkin for Halloween -- these are all art. Art is not merely objects wealthy elites own; it is earnest effort by all of us in both exalted and pedestrian arenas.

I’ve spent much of my life admiring and learning about art. Art in galleries, art in the cinema, art in literature. Photography is one of my ways to create art. I search for visual imagery, grab it on film and present results to others. Photography, like other art media, is something you improve at with training and practice.

My plan for the future is to migrate from my law career (ending it when material needs are met) to a mélange of artistic activities. Most of those activities will not be offered for respect or money; they’ll be pursued for the intrinsic joys of creative life. In short, for my own benefit.

In anticipation of this shift, I’ve been studying. “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.” Friends of mine who are professional artists recommended an old book to me -- “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde, a poet. Written in 1983, the book examines the human impulse to create art and its role in the community. My mind consumed the book like ice cream -– it explores subjects I care deeply about and stimulates me toward future action.

I won’t try to describe the book to you, but will briefly mention its core lesson: the distinction between commerce and gifts. Hyde spends the first half of the book explaining this point and, in the second half, applies it to two poets (Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound) for illustration

In commercial transactions, strangers meet, exchange a commodity on agreed price and then leave. The transaction generates no personal connection between seller and buyer. Gifts, by contrast, are offered freely and create emotional bond. Gifts have a different purpose than commerce. Their offer and acceptance cause a variety of social effects which Hyde traces among several ancient and remote societies. The principles he outlines become suddenly clear while reading; once they do, you see the world differently.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this book is changing my life. It's altering how I view social interactions and teaching me what happens when art enters society. I plan to use that knowledge to steer my future life.

"The greatest art offers us images by which to imagine our lives. And once the imagination has been awakened, it is procreative: through it we can give more than we were given, say more than we had to say" (p. 251).


  1. Make art if you want to make art! There is no "should" in that! Art is for releasing and sharing emotions. I hope you find the art that allows you to share and create in a way that satisfies your soul, Ally.

    I love that picture of you. :)

  2. Amen. Anyone can make art in the way that works best for them.

    That picture is lovely friend.

    1. Thanks. It's one of my favorites. I took it in Vancouver while visiting friends.

  3. Awakening the imagination is the key to create art. It's a personal and emotional journey. For me, that journey has lead me to photography and poetry. That photo of you is magical, by the way. xxx

  4. Picasso said that "art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life". I believe there is great truth to that and have experienced it, often so deeply transcended into a spiritual experience, myself through my life and believe it to be true for a good many artistic/creative individuals.

    It is my steadfast hope that as you embrace and focus on creative pursuits all the more, dear Ally, a lifetime's worth of (proverbial) dust that may have, wholly naturally, accumulated in your vibrant soul will be washed away.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

  5. It is human to create.

    I fought being an "artist" as a child/teen because of the pressure to make it a career. I knew the minute my livelihood depended on making art a commodity instead of a joy, I would no longer be an artist.

    So instead I create when the mood strikes. I make stuff for me and my friends. I make when the muse hits.

    College also taught me that I want to MAKE. So much about art school was about destruction or trashing "useless" practice pieces. I hated the waste. I wanted to make.

  6. Art is great! I can't wait to see how you develop into your new part of life!!

  7. Art is life. That's why I was never able to resist the pull of art history or museums - even though I was unable to pursue them professionally, I try to make as much room for them in my life as possible. I can't wait for your next chapter! Looking forward to seeing tons of new art from you since you have such a unique perspective on, well, everything. :)