Love and anger
January 3, 2012
During the past year, Canada's Leader of the Opposition, Jack Layton, died of cancer at the age of 61. In his final message Jack said, "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."
These words resonated across our country. It has always struck me that both love and anger are two of the main motivators in the making of art. Both emotions can work equally well. It's just that love is so much the more pleasant of the two.
Discouraged early on by economic conditions, disabilities, contrarian parents, peer pressure, teachers or others, a few artists are able to fight the uphill battle to overcome or at least channel their anger. Daily they are driven to "show the world."
Other creatives take a more gentle, loving path. It can be a love of some particular someone, a family, a principle, a passion or a charity. It can be that peculiar and miraculous state of simply doing something for the love of it. Each work we produce is our very own baby brought into the world for a span that may extend beyond ours. It's been my observation that these main brands of working love can be bound together into a wholesome bundle where tangible, finished work is key to hope, optimism and a sense of well-being. "Work," said Kahlil Gibran, "is love made visible."
The finding of love within our work unlocks the studio and prompts the actions of hand and mind. The extraordinary prevails and even ordinary and well-trodden subject matter can be freshly explored and rejuvenated. One might even be blessed with the aura of popular greatness. "He alone is great," said Gibran, "who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving."
In my last letter of the old year I mentioned the gentle productive hum of studios. Between the turning on and the turning off of the lights there's a span of privilege. Held steady by the gentle hand of love, we begin, we keep going, and we sign off. There may not be a higher calling.
PS: "In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love." (Marc Chagall)
Esoterica: One of the great features of studio life is the capacity for renewal. Daily love manifests itself and is a fairly reliable prod. Some projects can be measured in no time at all. Sometimes three or four projects can be performed and completed in a single day. Other projects progress over days or weeks, dependent on the uncanny sleep-work that lies between. "Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." (Ursula K. LeGuin)
Current Clickback: "Occupy art studio" talks of the co-dependent nature of the artist and his studio. Your further input will be appreciated.