Friday, June 02, 2006

Doing our own work

I have been thinking a lot lately about the movements that art could make in people's hearts & lives... and something Art Powerlines wrote recently stirred my thoughts some more.

In 12 years of practicing yoga, I continue to feel a perceptible change nearly every day. It is not at all unusual that I will find myself thinking, feeling, or behaving in some way that hasn't ever spontaneously occured in my life before. Even more amazing is watching the changes in my students... Witnessing people soften, strengthen, inquire, become confident, become kind - and listening as they share their joy and wonder at such changes - is a tremendous blessing. This amazing spectacle has given me a deep belief in the inherent goodness of people, and in the possibility of change for us all.

Yoga works over time... and it works because each of us has to do it for ourselves. We become our own toolbox, and by our own inherent wisdom, we learn at just the pace that we are capable of. It works because it is optimistic, encouraging, and rewarding... even when it's incredibly difficult and uncomfortable and scary.

How could art sneak into people's lives like this? How can art find its way into people's lives and hearts in the gentle, persuasive way that yoga does? How can art become a medium that shares a message - even an uncomfortable one - in such a way that people are eager to receive it?

This strikes me as a critical point. Art is so often shocking/offensive - but who of us appreciates learning from shock & offense? Isn't a gentle, compassionate approach capable of being even more devastating and effective than brute force? As Art Powerlines wrote, artists/people could chose to transform "art that is about shocking people to art that is about drawing people [in]."

I keep thinking back to the difficult, but necessary, lessons I have had to learn in life - and how some were learned with a sense of discovery and accomplishment - while others were learned with humiliation and fear. What works about yoga is that each practitioner discovers the same truths for themselves - in their own language, in their own breath, in their own body, in their own thoughts & metaphors. The ideas are the universal truths, but the discoveries are intimate and individualized.

So how can art sneak into someone's heart and open it from the inside? Can a viewer look at a painting and feel as though they created it? As though it was their idea? I'm pretty sure it is possible... because I'm pretty sure I've looked at paintings and experienced that feeling. So, how does an artist create that opening for the "viewers"?

Another thing in Art Powerline's lovely posting that got me thinking was the idea that "Art is about people." Ever since reading it, I keep hearing "Art is about Humanity" in my thoughts. But I think I'll save that for my next posting.


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