Thursday, April 26, 2007

Art and Power: How Making Art Empowers Us



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.


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.



ART and POWER


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

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