My first art piece reflected an intense experience. Different metal pieces from an abandoned rail line in Maryland on a bed of oak captured the surprise of the inspiration, the natural setting where the experience occurred, and the way we are responsible for taking the time to understand our lives.
I was a proud artist. After carrying this heavy art sculpture to be assessed by a friend and an artist in his own right with credentials, I was hoping for his acknowledgement that I had delivered. As he looked and reflected on the piece, he asked me about my inspiration. After a few minutes, he simply said, “it is good”.
Frankly, I was hoping for more. More words, more positive accolades, more confirmation.
In what probably came across as childish disappointment, I asked him if this piece showed him that I was an artist.
“An artist becomes an artist when s/he is able to tell an ongoing story through their art over a period of years, ideally a lifetime. No one piece makes an artist. It is in the consistency of telling of story that an artist becomes what s/he is.”
It took time and repeated Life lessons to understand what he was sharing with me. As I continue to unpack this lesson, I am reminded of the following.
The heart is revealed through every action and yet understanding the heart only comes through the sum and trend of the actions. One action may tell the story of a man, but it is never the story.
Repeating patterns reinforce themselves. A friend always brought the language of the street into his art. It resonated with me as I let the visuals touch my heart in silence. I did not need to have an explanation. The experience of seeing, reflecting, and simply being with the art delivered something beyond words and details.
His words came together in one of his shows, “Bible School”. I left embracing a bible and a Psalm; “God is all mercy and grace—not quick to anger, is rich in love.” (Psalm 145.8).