Sitting here listening to Ben Harper… I’m so inspired by his music….reflecting back on the work day and the work in the studio and the surrounding ‘energy’ of my children. I’ve been thinking about “making meaning”. It’s an expression I used to use solely with my own students and their art. I worked endlessly at convincing them that unless they could make meaning in their own art, it would somehow have limits as to how it could speak to others.
Now I’m thinking about this being a real purpose for my own life this coming year. MAKE MEANING! I’m so ritualistic and I so love setting goals and MAKING things happen…I like to manifest my life and have for years, been reluctant to just let life swoosh over me. I know there are pitfalls to this thinking. For example…what if something bad happens?? What if I was to be challenged by poor health or unexpected loss? hmmm…I wonder how I would react to these possibilities in the ‘soup’ of the moment?
I’ll address this question in a moment…let me blither. (as though I have my very own fanclub? people who are out there with nothing to do but take pause and read my blitherings…and all without the publication of new photographs. I take a moment here to smile at these imaginings!)
Back to the subject of this entry, I think that anything profound and really worthwhile in life requires that it be meaningful. A relationship is deep and abiding to the degree that you personally invest and make it meaningful. Your own music, art…your writing is profound because you have decided to make it meaningful. You ‘show up’ to it. You commit to it and create it from your deepest joy, sorrow or indifference. But, you ‘show up’! Your children grow as you respond to them, connect with them and give, not in superficial ways, but in ‘meaningful’ ways.
A painting speaks to me when I make my own meaning with it. It doesn’t necessarily matter that I engage the artist’s intended meaning; but it DOES matter that I the viewer, bring my energy to it…and manifest something. Otherwise, I think that art becomes wall decoration. Perhaps Clive Bell and others would say “Heh, that’s ok…art for art’s sake…a wall decoration is alright. We can’t all be connoisseurs. Is that how I spell that? Who cares.” Blah blah….just let me ‘play’ with the ideas randomly…this is my little end-of-day-rant. If I don’t make note of what thoughts weave through my mind during the day, they become tangled…more than you can even see or experience here.
I think that a big reason why my english students have troubles with literature or reading in general, is because they have difficulty taking text and ‘making meaning’ with it. I think that my goal is to show them the ways/strategies that I have made meaning with literature. It seems that I love books beyond words! smiling here… Rarely do I say, “Don’t read this one. It’s a book that you could never get into!” Instead, there is always some MEANING that I have created for myself in the book. Whether non-fiction, biography, historical fiction…it matters not! I become that publication’s biggest fan! Wow!! Imagine if I can show my students how to do that!
Right now I am making meaning in the studio. I have freed myself over time of all encumbrances around the act of painting. I am creating works right now that speak to me and speak powerfully. Now…in a week or so when I deliver them to my galleries (and I can’t believe they’ve shown such patience with me) I will have to be prepared to remain separate….to trust in just how important the art is to me…and how it is ok to protect its ‘meaning’.
I think that when we ‘make meaning’ in relationships…in the world of business…in our art….we become responsible to all of that. There is an investment made. These become ‘of the heart’.
(I remember as I type the word RESPONSIBLE….the context from Le Petit Prince par St. Exupery…such a beautiful way of describing what I’ve been writing about here…”You become responsible for your rose…”)
It is my hope that I will be able to create a meaningful school year…that I will be able to continue building upon meaningful relationships and that I can make meaning in my art. I hope the same for each of you.