What is the essence of serenity in art and why do we seek it? There is no doubt some art can bring about a sense of peace, whether by making it or observing it. One of the arguments against the “shock art” that has been prominent in the last few decades, is the sense of unrest it causes in both viewer and art maker. While “shock art” can upend the art market for a bit, it does not translate to popularity with the vast art making and buying public. Shock artists may make a pile of money in the short term but have no lasting appeal. And only a minuscule number of artists can make it in the extremely narrow market for shock. So what about the greater makers and consumers of art out there? Is it serenity we are seeking or something more?
Artists and art consumers could be:
seeking serenity in the “vastness of scenery”
being transported to another world where only paint, brush strokes and color exist
using our imaginations for survival
staying healthy by using our creativity to remain connected
David Chang, renowned artist and Chair of the Department of Art + Art History, at Florida International University, on an exhibit at FIU called, “The Art of Serenity” says, “Human beings are naturally drawn to vastness in scenery.” While Alice Sun, responding in Quora.com on “Why is painting a relaxing activity?” says “To me, painting is relaxing because it transports me to another world, where only paint, brush strokes and color exist.”
While we think we are seeking peace and serenity, we may in fact be seeking something much bigger. Kaimal Girija, of Drexel University, says in an article for NPR, “This act of imagination is actually an act of survival.” “It is preparing us to imagine possibilities and hopefully survive those possibilities.” The writer of the article for NPR, Malaka Gharab is an artist herself and believes there are benefits to both making and viewing art. In her article, “Feeling Artsy, Here’s How Art Helps Your brain she talks with experts like Girija and another, Christianne Strang, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and past president of the American Art Therapy Association. Professor Strang says, “”Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself and connected to the world.”
As for me, I’ll say art and art making is all of those things and more! The only thing I can add is, I must make art. It is a drive from inside that I have very little control over. Is seeking serenity through art and art making a means of survival and connectedness? Must be!
The Voice of Creativity does not come from the outside world.
Much is being said today about the origins of creativity. There is no shortage of ways to get “in touch” with your personal creativity, make your creativity thrive, bring out your creativity, etc., etc., and on it goes. Until it is recognized that the Source of all creativity is not outside of ourselves but within, we are probably not going to bring it out or get in touch or whatever. It’s a difficult concept to grasp. It has taken me a long time to gain this understanding. Sometimes I forget it. When I do forget, that is when I have to take a step back out of the rat race, turn down all the noise and other constant static that fills up all our lives. With so much outside static battering our senses, the Voice we need to hear cannot get through.
Many people when asked can quickly conjure up the image of a “happy place” that symbolizes peace and serenity. Mine has always been Reelfoot Lake in West Tennessee. The reflections of sunlight on still water, turtles sunning themselves on a log, herons and egrets quietly watching for their evening meal to swim by are remembrances I can quickly go to to gain peace in the midst of the constant stimuli of daily life. The memories instantly cause me to take a deep breath and lean back savoring those peaceful moments. That is when I can get in touch with the Source of creativity. That’s when I can hear the still quiet voice inside. That is when I recognize that the Voice is inside. Not outside.
When I pay attention to that voice from within, I recognize that it is the voice of the Creator, the Source of all creativity. The images in my memories remind me that it is the Great Creator who created, Reelfoot Lake, the lake that gives me so much peace. When I stop to listen, I know that it is that same Creator that creates all works of art. When I listen, I can hear the whispers of how and what to create. I don’t always listen because I get caught up in the noise of daily life. The art reveals when that is happening. I get frustrated. I keep trying but not getting anywhere. I look at the paintings and I want to cry because I can’t figure out what’s wrong. Sometimes the reminder comes from someone out there reminding me to look within. Sometimes I realize it myself. It’s when the reminder says, “Stop, Listen.” Then I can hear the Voice within say, “try some purple and see what happens.” The whispered Voice of True Creativity has broken through the static and that is a beautiful thing. Now I can breath again.