Dec 23 2011

#237 “Friends”

From Frances in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (courtesy of MC)

Nothing stirs my soul more than receiving artwork from a friend of an artist instead of the artist himself/herself. Why is this? Well, simply put, when this exchange takes place and one friend offers a gift of art to another, much more than the art itself is exchanged. Messages are sent through the action that go deeper than words, and a sacred bond is created between both the giver and receiver that is difficult to establish in any other way. The message from the bestower to the recipient is one of love and trust. The giver offers herself up wholly and says, “Here is a piece of myself that I give freely to you. I value you enough to share a personal creation with you. You are important to me, and I want this gift to serve as a reminder of my love and affection for you.” The message sent from the one who receives the gift to the one who gives it is one of acceptance, admiration and empathy. This message says, “I take you as you are and I love your gift not because of the level of talent it displays but because of the sentiment behind it. I will value your art as much as I value you as a person. You are dear to me and therefore anything that you have to offer to me is precious and special.”

As you can see, this type of gift-giving is deep and meaningful for both parties. Therefore, when I receive a picture such as the one above (that was seemingly a gift from one friend to another), I become a third party to this important process and am honored to be involved. It’s almost like being a fly on a wall and witnessing some deeply sentimental event. While this wolf may be no more than the combination of a couple circles and a few lines and dots on a notecard, the symbolic meaning goes much deeper, and to me, this small illustration is a reminder of the hope that still exists in this world through the love and selflessness of good friends.

Thanks, Frances. Thanks, MT. If you’re ever in Chattanooga, send me a message. Maybe we can get a cup of coffee together, and perhaps even more new friendships will be born…

Dec 16 2011

#230 “Jordan”

From Jordan in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I believe that whether or not an artist consciously chooses to reveal her true self in her creations or whether she wishes to be deliberately mysterious and enigmatic, there will always be a hint of truth or a vein of authenticity that runs throughout her work. Not that Jordan would try to be purposefully deceptive- I know her personally, and I have always found her to be honest in the extreme. But I make these statements about the inherent truth in an artist’s work simply to say that I could picture no composition that is more representative of Jordan’s personality than what she has produced here. While the whole of her being could in no way be reduced down to a single picture, this work does serve as a nice summation of the nuances of her bright, quirky and endearing personality.

I have been out of contact with Jordan for quite a while, and strangely enough, this project has served as a means of reconnection between us. Although Jordan is not a stranger to me, the time apart has changed both of us, and as a result, when we talked just recently it was as if I was reconnecting with an old friend and meeting someone new all at once.

Probably one of the first things that the viewer will notice about this picture is the antique photograph that serves as a backdrop. Whether or not this picture is an actual heirloom of Jordan’s and holds personal significance, I can’t say for sure. But regardless, this photograph does possess at least some symbolic meaning. You see, Jordan is what you might call an “old soul.” Although she is young, she possesses a unique perspective on life and a wisdom that is typically only gained by people far beyond her years. A brief conversation with her will reveal to you a person whose worldview is one that is constantly curious but consciously deep and full of wonder. Just as the backdrop/photograph is careworn and old, Jordan is an individual who has known her fair share of hardship and has been through quite a bit in her relatively few years. But just as the photograph presents a young, seemingly carefree girl, Jordan also possesses a youthfulness and a thirst for life that is unrivaled by even the most vibrant of children. She has a zeal for new experiences and seeks to drink up all life has to offer, but at the same time she displays a maturity and a shrewdness of judgment that characterize a well developed sense of womanhood.

Moving on to the depiction of the wolf- Just as the lobo is presented in the foreground of this picture, Jordan’s social style and demeanor is up front as well. Like the wolf she is fearless and gallant, and she makes no bones about where she stands on certain issues or what her beliefs are. But as we all know, the wolf is also a mysterious creature that is as complicated and enigmatic as it is bewitching. It is changing and fickle but also marked by enduring characteristics of pride, freedom, and beauty.

And finally, the… um… tree thing(?) in the corner of the picture- In all honesty, I have no clue what this thing is or exactly what is going on here. But just as the other aspects of this picture shed light onto aspects of Jordan’s personality, so does this curious cartoon. As long as I have known Jordan, I have always pictured her mind to be an enchanted forest filled with whimsical thoughts and unique fantasies. Surely it is a place of magic and wonder where bizarre creatures of her own design mix and mingle with weird musings beyond comprehension. This addition to the picture is wild and unexpected, just like the artist herself.

In the end, I’m sure all of this just skims the surface of summing up Jordan as a person. Who can be defined by one picture or with just a few words? I’m sure that no one can, but ultimately the fact that Jordan took the time to create this beautiful work and send it to WBS does offer another hint to discovering who she is. It helps to prove that if nothing else, one simple word for her is accurate. And that word is… “friend.”

Thanks, Jordan.

Jul 15 2011

#76 “Pack Mentality”

From Joel

What fine specimens greet our eyes today. As you can clearly see, these wolves by Joel are simultaneously beautiful and and artfully rendered, but they also accurately represent one of the most well-known features of the wolf lifestyle: the tendency to live and travel in packs. Now, there is a lot of information available as to why wolves live and travel in groups, and if you are curious, you can access information here. But when you think about it, many reasons for existence of the wolfpack can easily be guessed. For one, it makes hunting prey easier. It also allows for greater personal security, helps to ensure the availability of mates, and provides a “social” outlet for the animals.

When you translate the concept of the pack into the realm of human existance, things can get a little tricky. There are a variety of sides to this issue and many ways to examine it. Some might argue that the global society formed by increased technological communication is in turn increasing the human pack mentality. Others argue that this same phenomenon is actually decreasing true human interaction and is only serving to isolate people. On another note, when you look at most modern communities, many people don’t have anything that resembles a close personal relationship with their neighbors. This is probably due to the fact that as our society progresses and the ease of acquiring the necessities and amenities of life increases, our reliance on those that live in a close proximity to us decreases. But, eventhough we not know the person who is living next door to us, it can also be argued that there are more social outlets than ever before in terms of activities that range from recreational softball teams to the wild world of LARPing.

So what can we do? What conclusions about the “human pack” can be reached when the viewpoints that are so fundamentally different? I’m not really sure, but here’s a start: I think that we can all agree that we need each other. Not necessarily for survival, but still… we need each other. Ne need the warm smiles, the firm handshakes, the loving embraces, the gentle holding of hands that only another human can offer. And if we truly believe this, why not make the choice to today? Add life to the pack. Be kind to one another. Show love in every way possible in your daily life. Let your life be a blessing to others. If we all pull together, there’s no telling what we may accomplish.

Thanks for the artwork, Joel. Your contribution is a reminder of the selflessness and beauty that I hope to practice in my own life.