Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Week, Wednesday

Thinking about things that make me happy has been an odd kind of homework assignment. We spend so much of our time focusing on what we "need" to fix or what's wrong that we forget about everything else.

There are times when I'm at peace, when I can allow myself to be calm and feel without going over the edge one way or the other. I might not be bouncing off the walls jubilant, but the world is right and life is good. This is happiness. How do I classify this? Is it one thing that does it? No, I know of several off the bat, but one stands out, especially with my upbringing and education.


Be it creating, viewing or even just thinking about it, art makes me happy. I can be angry and focus that energy on a piece and be calmed. I can listen to music and put my feelings about the lyrics or music onto canvas. Letting my fingers sink into clay as I sculpt is pure bliss.

I love walking around art museums and galleries. When I lived in Southern California, I would make frequent trips to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Their collection of Impressionist art was quite large and I loved visiting Degas' Little Dancer, Age 14. There was something about her that spoke to me, as well as Degas' chalk pastels. I enjoyed seeing the strips of paper he would add on to the side because he wasn't happy with the composition and thought a piece needed to be larger this way or that.

I took trips to Chicago to see the Degas & Monet retrospectives, as well as to LA to see the Van Gogh exhibit. These artists were passionate. Their emotions were conveyed through the years to me through their brushstrokes on canvas, use of color or fingerprints in clay.

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party

I'll never forget stepping into the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. I was working on a project for college, taking slides of works for my own catalog. There happened to be a Feminist art exhibit, featuring the Guerilla Girls, Miriam Shapiro and others. I was stunned. I was... I was happy. Seeing these women take on art as a social medium just blew my mind. What I didn't know was that a life-changing exhibit had been brought out of storage and was on display in the lower portion of the museum. There... there before me was Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. I smiled, I cried, I rejoyced at what I saw before me.

I knew then and there what had been buried within me and who I was. I was, am and will always be an artist in some way, shape or form. That knowledge, plus seeing art from the masters, lesser knowns, those just starting, my friends and even my daughter, that makes me happy.


My Mane in the Wind said...

I also was transformed by Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. I read her book first and wept with the courage and fire that propelled her to reveal everything a Southern girl such as I was absolutely not suppose to talk about much less put on display! What freedom! Thanks for this post. Happy Thursday!

Anairam said...

Art has that capacity for me too - to make me happy, to blow my mind, to challenge me ... Have a happy week!