“The Artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind anything less is a dithering while Rome burns”, Terrence McKenna.
My new dance piece is still a work in progress but I’m very pleased with what I came up with so far, with what came out of my own mind. I can’t say it’s a masterpiece. Some might say this is not even a dance, but it’s real. It’s me. It’s an expression of my intelligence and extension of my mind. I’m surprised at how much I like it, given my history with wanting to hide big parts of myself. It feels like it’s my baby. How can one not like their baby, on all their imperfections?
But what if no one cares? BTW, did I mention that my piece “When in Doubt” is all about doubting myself as a woman? As I write these words I’m thinking it must be about doubting myself as an artist as well.
As I’m getting closer to finishing my dance and I look at what I created, I contemplate the value of engaging in creative work. I used to take art for granted. I never stopped to think about how the world would look and feel like with no art. I’m realizing now that there would be no point to life really. But what is it about art that is so essential to our existence as a species?
When I started the piece I thought: “how can I impress my audience” but the more I worked on it, with the help of my incredible mentor, I realized that real art is not created in order to impress anyone. It’s about being true to oneself. If my dance impresses anyone it’s only because it’s done in a way that helps people connect to their own humaneness. When people can identify with someone else’s struggles and triumphs, that helps them feel not alone.
It’s also about using one’s mind to come up with original ways to send a point across in a way that widens people’s perspective of the universe, that helps them think about their existence on this planet and by doing so makes them be more aware and present. It’s like what one of my teachers once said, “when I witness good art I always feel refreshed, no matter how tired I was before”. Now, why is that? Well, it’s because it helps us make sense of the world from a new angle, it opens our mind to new possibilities. When an artist is successful in sharpening my awareness I feel very hopeful. I think it’s also because I get to see what the human mind is capable off and how intelligence is limitless.
In a sense art may be the only hope we have of changing the world for the better. There’s only so much one can do by way of influencing people’s opinion through talking to their intellect. There’s something about art that bypasses our defenses and speaks to a part of us that existed before we learned to put things in black or white.
As a society we don’t value art and artists enough and we take them for granted. Since i grew up in this society that might be the reason why I constantly need to spell out to myself why it’s OK, not to mention necessary, to stay on track with making art. It makes sense that I keep forgetting why and it’s OK if you do. Maybe we can remind each other. I hope this post will stimulate you to pause and think about what art means to you, about what a difference it makes in your life. It’s important for me to know. Please feel free to to share your thoughts with me.