The third function of art as defined by de Boton and Armstrong and described in more detail here is sorrow. One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us is teach us how to suffer more successfully…base and unimpressive experiences are converted into something noble and fine — exactly what may happen when sorrow meets art.
Less of my work expresses sorrow although it may permeate pieces and be a part of their gestation. I once described this piece shown as a love song. As well as delight in the desert landscape where I had lived for over four years, it was indeed expressing sorrow. And fear. And later on was linked to disappointment. But now I pass my Desert Walking Gown every time I enter my house. I remember my tenacity and focus. I know what I can do. And what is important. And where I can feel grounded, quiet and still.
Yesterday I wrote about remembering. De Boton and Armstrong’s second function of art is hope. Read their discussion at length here where they talk about the power of art to put us in touch with a blithe, carefree part of ourselves that can help us cope with inevitable rejections and humiliations. Don’t we need that?
I am an introvert but much of my art is flamboyant, over-the-top and certainly tapping into that carefree, blithe part of me that loves to play.
Certainly, the “girls” over the ages, have been truly alter egos! Mind you, I have long ago given up hope of having boobs like theirs.
Thanks to my beloved Maria* I have discovered some writing by philosopher Alain de Boton and art historian John Armstrong on Art as Therapy. I won’t repeat what she says here but for the next seven days I will illustrate each of their core psychological functions of art with photographs of my own work.
The first function is remembering. They write that art is a way of preserving experiences, of which there are many transient and beautiful examples, and that we need help containing. Much of my art has an element of remembering. This triptych (detail shown) was created using the images I saw on a weekly bus journey when i lived in Nepal.
And this necklace (R) was created to remind me of the elation I felt at finally arriving in Lo Manthang, Upper Mustang; a destination I had dreamed of reaching for nearly 30 years. The crushed tobacco tin was, to me, a precious relic.
*So much noise on the internet isn’t there? I hope I don’t contribute. Maria helps me to turn up the signal, wipe out the noise.