“Gods always behave like the people who make them”
Zora Neale Hurston
I stumbled upon this quote while fretting over MFA decisions, I am currently stumbling around like an early nineties technophile who is obsessed with the idea of electronic mail and has to check it every few minutes, just in case it happens, that there's been contact from the outside world since I last logged in moments ago. Maybe more like a marooned shipwreck victim that is awaiting a message from anyone at this point, the problem being that all the bottles that wash ashore are letting me know how to meet singles in my area. As I check my email and the graduate forum to see who has been plucked from the wandering masses to be given that sweet, sweet relief from anxiety, I form a sort of jealous hatred for that lucky soul who has escaped from the ranks of those awaiting responses to their program. And I wait seemingly forgotten about.
I scrambled to make that quote stick in my brain. Trying to get it into that grey gelatinous mass that has turned even more transparent and jelly like in the past weeks due to the stress and anxiety of my looming life decisions. When Something magical happened, a moment of clarity erased all the worry, completely dismantling my self created and self imposed mental defense system, not even like chink in my minds armor, a complete and total disintegration of the walls I have put up named anxiety and despair suddenly came crashing down, and although my spirit animal is not David Hasslehoff he might as well have been singing from on top of the remains.
I think we worry (I do) about the artists we think we need to be in order to be successful, even on a more basic level, we think ourselves out of becoming good artists or creating meaningful art because we have these limitations that we have put on ourselves, limitations that if we can just muscle our way through will PROVE that we are a real artist. I think then I need to change the quote a little bit.
Art always behaves like the people who make it.
What I mean is if you have the mindset that art is supposed to be hard and near impossible to accomplish then it becomes that type of obstacle. I believe, truly believe that art needs to have blood sweat and tears in it to become something amazing, and I think what I can safely say is that I am completely wrong. (Not saying it won't take a long time before I can figure out how to change that, but I think I might have at least started on the path of recovery) Art sometimes is the product of those (bodily fluids? (see above)), but it also arise out of joy and out of solutions and tears (the other kind, the happy ones). Art should come from the sum of your experience, I think of Whistler telling the courts (mind you this is paraphrased like crazy) that you are not simply buying the paint on the canvas, you are buying years of toil and failure and years of success, the painting that is in front of you is a culmination of all the paintings before it, all the experiences before it. Art does not come from a narrow path you decided it had to originate from, art is found in all the ways you choose to live your life. All the paths converge and you know deep in your core of being that you have arrived at something special. All the art you create has hints and maybe even small portions of the puzzle hidden inside, it is up to us to allow ourselves to explore and discover the paths that take us to the art that we are destined to create. Creating honest art that makes us vulnerable pieces that allow us to disregard the lofty notions and stories we have heard about what a true artist is. (usually from people who do not create art, just critique it) I think you would be blown away by the amount of satisfied happy artists that you have probably never heard of, but that make amazing art. The people who dedicate their time and energy searching for the convergence of the path. You can feel it to, as the viewer, you also know the goal as well as the artist when you see it. You may not know all the details or the trials that happened in the process that allowed the artist to arrive there, that information isn't important to the viewer, but you know when you see it.
You can read a little about the trial and Whistler in the link above.