Friday, January 15, 2010

I Am Stealing Precious Light

i hesitate to take pictures
it is like thievery
almost like
i am stealing precious light
that these, my brothers and sisters,
need to live

The last stanza of Iron Flowers from Iron Flowers a Poetic Report on a Visit to Haiti by the African journalist and poet, Kalamu ya Salaam. Written in 1979.

If posting, or even thinking, about paintings and sculptures amidst human tragedies seems regardless, detached and insensitive then one's perspective of art is skewed. While I personally do not create politically specific art or art with obvious social issues, I do find art to be one of the most restorative means for one's emotions and psyche, especially in the face of disaster. On September 13th, 2001 I went with my family to Storm King Art Center. Two days prior I was four blocks away from the first tower when it started to collapse, witnessing the deaths and destruction. The reporting of the event seemed so removed from what I had seen and heard with my own eyes and ears. Journalism deepened the scars: freezing the agony and replaying the catastrophe for a situation we were all helpless. The massive Calder stabiles and the I-beam di Suvero works seemed especially beautiful and reassuring on that day I took off to spend in the green hills and meadows of Mountainville, NY.

I have not watched any footage of the quake in Haiti or browsed photos. I know how I will feel and I cannot pretend to be closer to those who suffer. The very act of looking seems wrong, like rubber necking a roadside fatality. I visited my friend Marie yesterday and asked about her mother, sister and other relatives in Haiti...thankfully they are all fine. Marie is every woman. I have worked with her for ten years. She is Haiti for me. She is classy, proud and respectful. She makes every man feel handsome and grateful to be alive. Every major issue in my life the past decade has been resolved by Marie. In one minute with her you realize that intelligence has nothing to do with education and power has nothing to do with rank. In parting, Marie said "Today is already a better day than yesterday."

So while there is nothing timely here, because I try to capture things that are timeless, I hope that what is taken away from this site about art and media is the creative spirit of humans and the positive construction of artists.