“You have to make art stronger than life so people can feel it. Like Franz Kafka says, ‘you have to take an aX to the frozen sea in people’s hearts.'” quoted from Annie Liebowitz, photographer.
What does it mean, to me, to “break the ice in people’s hearts”?
As an artist, a writer, and a lover of Great Spirit, honoring the phenomenon of Universal Consciousness that unites us all—this quote that I share in my post today means a LOT to me. It means that whenever I create a work of art, small or large, writing or an object, or even cook a dish to share with another, I attempt to put into it as much of my power, my energy, my lust for life as i possibly can. It didn’t use to be like this for me. No no no. There was a time when I thought art was about beauty. Or making something others thought beautiful. But all that changed when i went on a personal journey to try to understand what art is, and the incredibly astounding POWER that art transmits.
In ancient times people used art to glorify their deities, and made monuments to them. These contemporary parodies of an Egyptian Pharaoh and his Queen are my way of saying, “yes, we still have sacredness in our lives, even if it is hidden within the many choices offered to people today.” This piece, done in papier mache, is actually a joke, because it depicts the King with an adjustable penis (never depicted in real Egyptian art!) and a Queen who is barechested and cross-legged, a very un-queenly way of being. The message I am conveying is that we, as ordinary people, men with penises and women with boobs and pussies, are just as likely to be kings and queens in our own domains, in our own lives—in our own hearts.
Strong? Perhaps? Breaking the ice in other’s hearts? Well, it depends. If the viewer takes long enough to relate to what the piece is about, there is a strong possibility of that happening. But…if the viewer just looks and see, “oh … what a pretty piece of something or other,” and doesn’t try to put the puzzle together, and ask him or herself, “exactly WHY does this sitting man have a noticeable penis, when ancient pharoahs never did? and exactly WHY does this queen beside him have bare breasts and her legs crossed, obviously hiding what she has there?”— well then, art is reduced to what politics has become, in my mind—simply a mass of opinions, confusion, and shouts of dissent no matter who is in the best position.
Art HAS to be stronger than life…otherwise it doesn’t make any difference. Why bother making art if it isn’t so strong that it wakes up the viewer? I can’t fathom any other reason, as an artist, to bother making art, the ways things are these days, if it doesn’t do just that! WAKE us up! So that’s the kind of artist and writer I am. I WANT to break the ice in other’s hearts. I WILL take an ax and attempt to break the ice in others’ hearts…with my art, with my words, with my ideas. Like this painting of mine tries:
this image has the Egyptian goddess Nut (pronounced “k-nhut” according to Joseph Campbell) in the Center, who is always depicted in this kind of downward-dog pose, because She actually represents the path of the sun as it travels, each day, from one side of the horizon to the other. Of course in my translation Nut is disguised amid the flurry of energy that life is, that the sun generates. You can see her lower portion on one side, the right, while on the left side, her front side is recognizable from only the set of (three!) breasts and her grounded hands that peep out from the crystalline energy transmitted by her “work”—that is, traveling across time, being constantly eternal as the ancient Egyptians always thought of the sun as being. In the center of this interpretation is the Hiranyagarbha, the snake-with-its-tail-in-its-mouth, also called the Ouroboros, one of my favorite motifs. Within the inner space of the snake’s form is what is known as “the Cosmic Egg.” And what, pray tell, does all this mean? Well, with symbols these “ideas” signify the interconnectedness of us all. Just as Nut’s body represents the sun’s traveling the heavens, rising and setting each day, so too does the snake with its tail in mouth represent the eternalness of life, both the individual’s and all of creation.
When one studies the ancient scriptures which are the basis of yogic philosophy, the Vedas, one begins to expand our traditional western thinking that too often is confiding, mundane, and fails to explain, or at least, give a little Light upon the Great Mysteries that all religions have hence, attempted to. These mysteries, invisible or tangible, are the ideas that intruige me, and keep me occupied as artist, writer, and lifelong seeker. If you want, you can join me in this next drawing of mine I offer about the subject. Dive in. See if you can feel the interconnectedness that each of us, as individuals, have with the Universal–with the energy of Life, the continuity of all that is. A comfortable place, this idea, one in which i find great peace.