Friday, October 23, 2009
This poem by Arna Bontemps is one of my favorites from the Harlem Renaissance Period. It is one I have read many times, enjoying it more each time:
I planted deep within my heart the fear
That wind or fowl would take the grain away
I planted safe against this lean, stark year
I scattered seed enough to plant the land
In rows from Canada to Mexico
But for my reaping only what the hand
Can hold at once is all that I can show
Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields
My brother's sons are gathering stalk and root
Small wonder then my children glean in fields
They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit
Sunday, October 18, 2009
It has been said that the written word is mightier than the sword. I agree. Anything documented, whether imagery or words, has a sense of finality about it. Perhaps etched in stone? Maybe that is why, during previous war times, the artists and intellectuals were the first to be imprisoned or banished.
Written words and imagery often carry a lot of weight, with the ability to influence both consciously and subconsciously. It is for this reason that certain imagery could possibly be considered propaganda.
An artist's imagery is his sword, as is a writer's words. Whether we understand or not the subject matter, looking at a documented work can sometimes seem as powerful as the actual creation of it, particularly if our emotions are engaged. That is how I have sometimes felt when viewing great abstract art, where my connection has often been more on a primal level rather than a cerebral one. The warrior-spirit of such works shine through strident and strong.
The warrior is the archtype of the artist because of his courage in using his sword, among other reasons, I'm sure. He knows that he takes a risk each time he uses it. Rarely does he use it recklessly. It is drawn with forethought and purpose. It may be drawn to document, teach, report, deliver a message or simply to share beauty or impart wisdom.
The warrior is essentially peaceful. He is a leader in the quest for harmony, and rarely seeks out enemies. Most likely, he chooses his battle based on the force of his need to express, as well as the content of the subject matter. In seeking to achieve harmony throught the art principles and values of line, form, color, balance and shape, the artist-warrior makes his mark and hits his target, either multiple times or a few.
Being artist-warriors, even the most passive-appearing artists are vociferious in alternative ways, aware of their freedom to speak through their avenue of choice. Moreover, they are confidently aware of the powerful warrior spirit that dwells within, unleashed time and again with positive purpose, having its say. Making its mark.