Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Art and Power

Ancient History - Photo c Lynda Lehmann

Like most people, I'm fascinated by questions about the nature of life and our place in the cosmos. As a human being, I feel all the ageless and timeless doubts of the human condition. But there's one thing I know for certain: doing art lifts me above doubt and despair and gives me joy. Being involved in creative process has helped me to say "yes" to life. In my own creativity and in other's, as well, I see glimpses of something wonderful. It's what I like to think of as "the infinite potential of the universe." It manifests in all of us, especially when we create.

For me, the activity of creating art is an affirmation of life. Experiencing "the grand mystery" gives us a feeling of joy, based on the miracle of form and the complex web of life on our planet.

Night Rhythms - Photo c Lynda Lehmann

Here's a short article I wrote for my blog on Absolute Arts, that was later published at Creativity Portal and in a catalog for a large artist's exhibition in India. It addresses the idea of how art gives us power over ourselves.


I think most of us would agree that producing art gives us power. I see it as a power over ourselves, as opposed to power over what is outside of ourselves. It is a personal power over our own energy, perception, and motivational systems. And perhaps more important, the making of art helps us transcend the need to achieve a social equilibrium (which in my opinion, is rarely possible anyway). Instead, we are involved in a process by which we may achieve a degree of harmony within ourselves, in relation to the universe. In the dynamic state of being committed to a creative process, we do not need to steal anyone's energy, or let them steal energy from us.

The truth wears six billion faces, each with different life circumstances, a different life script, and a different mode of emotional being. For me, doing art takes me to a place from which I can accept all scripts and embrace the subjective and relative nature of truth. (This is not to imply that morality is relative, however, because murder and extortion are always wrong, no matter whose script dictates it.)

Because my own script, when involved in creative process, is so engaging to me, always varied and full of mystery, it teaches me both tolerance and hope. The bounty of creative options available to me, gives me confidence in the infinite potential of the universe, for hope, harmony, and healing. In short, it gives me joy.

I have heard it said that artists, in doing art, are participating in a God-like creation process, and indeed it is true. While we are by no means transmuted into gods by making art, we at least become his humble hand-maidens. We see glimpses of beauty and wonder in places where other people may fail to look, unearthing it at every turn. We see new relationships, both visual and metaphoric, sociological and scientific. It becomes easier for us to step back or undercut the tendency to power struggles, that so often consumes people. (The last thing we need in this weary world is more conflict, personal or generalized, to spew hatred around the globe!)

I have heard it said, also, that we artists make art in order to find love and to be loved. I think the apex of this is that in the tender connections we make to the universe, we find some degree of self-love. I think this is a balanced form of self-love that perceives the relative and tenuous nature of things, including the subjective nature of our own lives. Therefore, in my opinion, it is a mature self-love, not to be confused with narcissism.

All text © 2006 Lynda Lehmann

NOTE: This is a repeat of my April 26, 2007 post, which was the first post I ever made! Since I had one comment (and probably one reader) for that first post, I thought I would share it again! "Art and Power" was originally an article I wrote for Creativity Portal a few months earlier. It was also published in India.


  1. reflections of completeness in your paintings,
    extension of Divinity in your words,
    Mastery on self discovery.....Lynda Dear!!

  2. Lynda:

    I love the pictures. I recognize the upper picture Isn't it some crystallized mineral? I forget the name.

    That's a lovely article. I had friend about forty years ago who was a wonderful artists. She was very sensitive about her art, and eccentric. She never liked shows, or galleries because she didn't like the business end of things. Once I complimented her on her talent, but she sharply told me it was all hard work! I don't believe that. Artists have a third eye in their mind and the ability to create what their eye sees. Personally, I can't draw a straight line.

    Happy trails.

  3. Wow, Lynda, the Ancient History creation is stunning!

    Art is in all of us - in different ways and mediums - just as individual and unique. What a joy it is to discover and create it - I feel sad for those who never do.

    take care,

  4. Es extraordinario y correcto tu comentario.
    El arte es la expresión de la vida y del amor.
    Yo sostengo que la "Flor de Lis" de Juana de Arco es en realidad la manifestación plástica del ser humano, con brazos, piernas, tronco o cuerpo, sexos masculino y femenino hacia abajo, cabeza e inteligencia arriba.
    Quien crea arte transmite su energía, que vuelve como un proceso armónico y placentero a quien observa o lo percibe.
    Mi saludo. Luis Mena

    It is extraordinary and correct your comment.
    Art is the expression of life and love.
    I argue that the "Flor de Lis" by Joan of Arc is actually the visual manifestation of human beings, with arms, legs, trunk or body, male and female down, head up and intelligence.
    Anyone who creates art transmits energy, which returns as a smooth and pleasant to the viewer or perceived.
    My greeting. Luis Mena

  5. Merging Point - Thank you for the WONDERFUL compliment! You have such poetry in your soul...

    I'm glad we've met through our blogging! Great big hugs to you, who are an inclusive and embracing soul...


  6. Swubird, it's a mineral that I photographed through the glass case in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, when we visited my father in PA several years ago. I was so busy taking photos of this display, which was AWESOME and the largest, most beautiful mineral display I had ever seen, that I forgot to write things down. So I don't know what the minerals are in any of my shots.

    Being an artist is a lot of fun, but it's still hard work--very hard--and lots of isolation and insecurity to deal with. That fact that I get a lot of joy out of painting or photographin does not mean it's not difficult and at times exhausting! And the pay isn't that good, lol...

  7. Kia ora Lynda,
    I think your art and words are a reflection of your closeness, and continuing search for the beauty and pureness of nature. Tolerance and hope, well the world certainly needs some of that!

  8. Lynda, your life choices teach your readers that everyone is constantly creating. We each have these conditioned ideas of what creating is, should be, or might become. It is experiences we imagine while working through these subjective ideas about creating that manifests as our life. We make conscious and unconscious choices adding pieces to the mental puzzle.

    Your images remind us that we have the power to add depth and clarity to our own views.

  9. Lynda I love the way you put ideas into art and words, beautiful post and images and an excellent interview I might add.

  10. Kathy, thank you! It was shot through the glass case at the most beautiful mineral display I've seen, in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Museum. I don't know the name of it, because I was too busy shooting to take notes.

    I count my blessings all the time, and having the time, health, and wherewithal to follow my creative muse, is at the top of the list!

  11. Luis, thank you for your comment. I think it's only art that keeps me grounded on the positive side of the Human Experience. The happy energy of doing it counteracts so much of the negativity that comes at me.

    People who pursue their creativity are very fortunate to have this antidote to apathy and sadness.

    I wish I spoke Spanish so I could read your blog!

  12. Kia ora, Robb. Yes, you're right about that. My life is an endless search and a revelling in, nature's beauty. It's something I can count on, and it buoys me up.

    As for hope and tolerance, I try to practice both. We have to begin with ourselves if we want to transform the world.

    Nice to see you, Robb. I always appreciate your stopping by to read my posts.

  13. Liara, it's sometimes hard to find either depth or clarity in our thinking, with so much clatter competing for our attentions.

    Writing and art-making are such good paths to self-knowledge, and by extension, to insight into the human condition.

    Dreams are too, as you articulated in your post!

    Thanks for commenting.

  14. Bob, I can't thank you enough for reading my post and my interview. We're here on the blogosphere to communicate and share, and I grow weary when it seems we're forgetting that.

    I'm honored to share parts of our lives with you and other passionate people, and I so tire of all the linking schemes, etc., which can sap the meaning from bloggin.

    Happy sky watching! :)

  15. Great article! I have a desert rose, too, but the one you pictured here is much more interesting!

  16. Lana, thanks! Is the mineral called a "desert rose"?

    One day I need to study up on my minerals. All 5 million of them... :(

  17. My God, Lynda, your work is just stunning! I'm off to take a look at your portfolio.

  18. i loved this fact i admire almost all your art works...they speak so much and appear so mysterious at the same time....
    thats why i m following this blog so that i dont loose touch

  19. @ LOUISE - I'm so happy that you visited and I thank you for your enthusiasm! I look forward to our future discussions!

    @ JYOTSANA - I'm following your blog too, so that we can share some of our thoughts. I love what you wrote in your profile--it's very poignant: the night / i am the darkness/ in the morning, light/ i am the flower’s bloom/ and the bird’s flight/ i am the blue of the sky/ and the earth’s green/ i am the living, the lived/ and the unlived dream/ in me I carry all that is/ or ever can be/ the silent existence, / mysterious and free/ breathes through me...........


  20. ohh, oh, so many shinys, I love, thank you for the link!

  21. Hi Linda - What an impressive web site you have. It's exquisite! Take care

  22. Great post! great shots!
    Purple cat


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