Saturday, March 18, 2006


Thinking about my decision to become an artist has a somewhat humbling effect on me. I can remember standing in sculpture class watching my professor tear the arms off my sculpture and, in a few quick motions, build up it's rib cage the way it was supposed to look then put the arms back on where they belonged instead of where I had them. The humiliation of the first two weeks of class got me every semester. I would walk into class get out a notebook, set my things in a corner and then I was forced to make drawings. I draw stick people and they don't look right. But in sculpting class I was expected to draw proportional people in poses so that I could understand what it was I would be sculpting. I'm sure my face burned the entire time and my drawings never approached normal looking human beings. Surrounded by people who could draw a realistic image of a person in under 5 minutes I would struggle for some thirty minutes to turn out a strange outline that appeared to be the likeness of some mutant. If you could see my drawings you would laugh, others have and I do not resent them for it.

The end result of my sculpting efforts have been good. One even made it into a competitive art show. It beat out 250 other art works to get into that. I often found myself staring at my sculptures and wondering that I had done that. It could not possibly have been me. But very often it was. My professor gained enough respect for me by the middle of my third and final semester in sculpting that he no longer tore apart my sculpture without notice. He asked me if I would allow him to change something on it and then he only made minor changes. Or he simply told me what I had to do to make it look right. Still, I need a lot of instruction.

My main problem is that I do not see things properly. Seeing proportions is not difficult for me, however, seeing the shape of something and how one muscle changes the surface of a limb and likewise the sculpture is never simple. I inevitably design them wrong and must be corrected. How am I ever supposed to do this?

There is one thing that sits better in my understanding, however, than politics ever did. It is exactly that weakness that I have described. My lack of an artist's eye. My left brain that has conquered my right brain so that I do not see things the way I should to work creatively.

I always knew too much or too well about politics. In class I would sit listening and I never had questions because I either understood the material or would understand the answer to any question if I thought about it for longer than 5 minutes. Sometimes after class one of my friends would say to me, "I didn't understand a word the prof said." I never told them that I understood everything. I sound so arrogant, but I was good and I knew it. That felt somewhat wrong to me. It gave me no reason to need God in my chosen profession. And since that profession often leads to an accumulation of power it would give me no reason to refuse the corruptions inherent in the American political system.

We often think that we are well intentioned beings who will not allow the things that destroyed others to destroy us. But we see in such strict parameters that by the time we have been destroyed by exactly the same thing as another person it is too late. We are all weak, despite our efforts to avoid knowing that fact. The follies of human weakness are great and many, yet they are all the same. They all come from the same flaws of human nature. Still, we define ourselved down so that we only see a few distinct things that are bad. And we lose to something that is just as bad as the things we saw, but went unnoticed. In short, we are often so obsessed with avoiding one downfall that we walk right into another.

I have never understood art, nor being artistic. Much of art still puzzles and humiliates me. That especially goes toward my own work in it. In that fact I rejoice. The apostle Paul wrote that in our weaknesses God is glorified. Then I say, let my life's work be from the weakest side of my being and not from that at which I excel.


Steven said...

Nice post

little-cicero said...

I doubt that any of the modern abstract artists these days have any concept of humiliation as the great classical and Renaissance Artists did. Of course, we may be going back to that more disciplined art in the future, who knows!

Tracy said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you.

Esther said...

You're welcome, Tracy. I'm glad I wrote something that had some meaning. Thank you for your comment.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

Esther! Hooray for art and artists and all who are bold enough to strike out perpendicular to their expected path. This was great to read.

Esther said...

Isaac, your example of changing from the expected path may have done me more good than any other. I have always admired you because you decided to become a youth pastor. Words fail me at the moment. Just know that I am inspired by the courage it must have taken you to leave college (at least for the time being) and pursue a different dream.