Post Categories

Subscribe

We respect your email privacy

Destruction As Art

A good friend of mine, Daryl Munton, once saw me destroying my artwork. I was moving, and going through a hard time and I was purging, he tried to stop me, because he is a good friend. I destroyed some large paintings, illustrations, lots of things went into an angry heap. I think he convinced me to pull the now bent Emmy award out of the heap, it sits in my studio not as a reminder of awards, but a reminder of catharsis. It’s one missing wing, and globe held distorted overhead.

It was cathartic. I lightened my load, as I let go of things I didn’t really need. In the end, I was trying to get at the core of who I am, and trying to figure out what I could part with and what I couldn’t. I was purging and reseting the playing field so I could find new paths. I’m not saying I understood all that at the time, but over time I have come to understand the need for purging and lightening our load. There is an importance in reviewing the past, and deciding what we need to let go of. There is health in doing this, both mentally and physically considering too how many of us cannot let go of anything from the past.

There is value in death and rebirth.

The flood here in Colorado is a reminder of the gift of purging, destruction as a part of growth. It’s a reminder of what it means to get to the core of what is important. So often we work hard to build a life, and define ourselves by the things that we collect. George Carlin talks to this far better than I could ever, but suffice to say I had too much stuff, and the flood came in and reminded me of this. My studio was cluttered like my mind, and now feels lighter, poised and ready for what is next, what do I REALLY want to create? It’s asking.

My first night sleeping alone in our house, with the creek waters still too close for comfort outside, I couldn’t sleep, and this continual inability to sleep in the wake of the flood has worn me out. That night though, in fitful sleep I latched onto a song to help me. I listened to Limbo No More, by Alanis Morissette. Each time I would wake up I would roll over and listen to the song, hearing it at a level I haven’t really heard it before, it brought me comfort from the sound of the creek outside, and the quiet of the house all around me except for the pumps and air filters running in each room:

My house, my role
My friends, my man
My devotion to god
All the more feels indefinite

I was able to sleep that night in the house, because electric was restored, and heat went back on, the house came to life, but alone here for days by myself I saw the house differently. It wasn’t just the destruction around me, but the lack of living people here. It felt empty, and I could see clearly that my home was not in this stuff, but back with my wife Sheryl, and our sons, Everest and Asher. Those are the things that make this a home, and make the house feel alive. It was a stark reminder to me of the last purge in my life. This one my stuff was being ripped away, and I was separated from what was important, my family, but they were there waiting for me.

Anything and everything woke me that first night back. The rumble of a truck far away, or the rattle of wind, or a smattering of rain and I’d roll over and hear the song again as I tried to sleep. My sleepy mind listened, the song had three clear acts like a story, a definite story arc.

My past in a heap
Thrown out most of my things
Only kept what I need to carve
Something consistent and notably me

I thought about the flooded barn out back as I woke up that night. The barn/workshop project in back of the house, that I have devoted two years to restoring has always been like a work of art for me. The artwork here though is about a place of creativity for me and my sons.

It is a place of possibilities. In the workshop I’ve built play structures, and in the center the goal was to make a doorway; The portal I called it. The portal went through the center of the barn out to the creek, where anything could come alive for my children, any time period could be reached. The goal was to make doors with trees carved in them, the gaps looking straight through the barn. Three sets of doors aligned I imagined, like a forest within.

The question about art to me is this; What does it do for us? It should reflect something about the world back to us. Yes, it can be magic portals, or intellectual challenges. Right now, my yard is like the greatest Andy Goldsworthy. It is pure destruction. It is transition.

It shows the impermanence of the world around us, how very Buddhist of our little creek to bring this.

So the lesson should be returning to my studio not just what can I do without, but really, what can I do without?

We are definitely in Limbo here. There is no doubt about that, so much of our routine has been interrupted by this flood. Our yard, my studio, and the workshop all destroyed. Now we get to rebuild and re-emerge. Things that my amazing wife Sheryl is surely more qualified than me to talk about as her work is all about life’s transitions; (http://www.conscious-transitions.com).

I will say that as an artist I see the possibility in the destruction and the meaning, the bigger picture around it all, and a reminder of how far I’ve come since that first purge so long ago.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

*