You know when you stumble upon a book and there’s that fabulous zinging sensation that pings through you. You know you are about to get your hands on something that resonates with what you’re about or the part of the journey that you are on right now. That was this book.
For weeks I have been teaching online classes via zoom. I have been teaching so many art history and art making lessons that my files are stacked with ideas, images, notes, and even a book proposal based on what I am learning. Not only is my mind being fed all these gorgeous, inspiring images but it is starting to make connections that I had not fully explored before.
On Saturday, there I was, sitting in front of my computer screen, watching my attendants appear one by one. The ‘connecting to audio’ and ‘connecting to video’ messages gave way to faces I had not seen before. Some screens remained black so I had no idea who I was speaking to. This past Saturday I was winding up my Saturday art sessions which have been rattling on for 15 weeks. During that time we have explored Still Life artworks, the works of Wayne Thiebaud, Helen Frankenthaler, Suzanne Valadon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Landscapes and Abstract Expressionism. We tried our hands at continuous line drawings, mark making, patterns, and collage. All of these lessons were of my own making, sometimes using a small nudge from an outside resource. It’s been fun for me to go ‘okay, I see what that lesson is doing but how can I make it my own and how can I fashion it better for the people in class.’
When the last session was winding down, the people on the screen began to talk. Seattle calling. Australia calling. Edinburgh calling. We were calling from at least three of the four corners of the earth and here we were, all connecting for this session. I nearly cried with joy. What was it that was so touching in that moment?
I have been on my own journey of discovery, finding ways that learning about art can connect us to the past to better understand our present. That is practically word for word what Eventbrite write on their page when they promoted my class to America. For years I have been teaching children and adults about the stories of perseverance seen in the lives of artists. There are themes of loneliness, love, anger, bravery. Art can create a bridge between people and help them to cross over to the other side to view life from a different vantage point. Creativity is connecting to not only what is within yourself but to others.
In David Gauntlett’s book Making is Connecting, Gauntlett states, “…art was never really just ‘product’ – art and creativity have always been about ideas and relationships.” I circled this statement, wrote GOLD next to it, and dog-eared the page.
For the month of July I will continue to write on this subject and give examples from my classes. In a time when many of us have felt increasingly isolated, making art ‘together,’ can be part of the answer to feeling part of a bigger picture.
Here is C Lavelle’s interpretation of Las Meninas. I feel like we ended on a high.