It took about twenty-five years for me to get over art school. It left me inside out. I knew a mathematician who had spent as many years trying to mathematically turn a bottle inside out. I now understand the importance of knowing that that is possible to reverse. At length, I was able to start seeing art not as it was presented to me in academic halls of art school. There it was presented as something mountainous, vertical, with a very few contemporary artists who were great enough to have made it to the top, in New York, and whose work sold for hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars. If you were great enough, you could make it to the top. Otherwise, you were destined to spend the rest of your life as an artistic bottom fish, swimming the halls of art schools teaching other young hopefuls that they may or may not make it as a great artist.
Going to school, even art school has become an inversion process, a place where we go in as inner directed human beings and come out as other-directed. I am writing this in order to encourage young people who are about to enter into art school to see the critical difference between these two states, one of heart and the other of mind. Being inner directed means listening to your heart, or being, when you sit or stand before a canvas or medium of self expression. Other directed is where you listen to everything that everyone else has put into your mind about what is good art and what is bad art, what sells, what is authentic art, what is “truthful”, merciless art, what “pops”, what does “not pop”. These are all generated from the belief that art is out there and you have to be smart enough to find its illusive entry door to National recognition.
What, then, is art that is generated from the inside? No one can say, is the answer to that question. No one can write about it. No one can advise you on it. No one has ever seen art that you have not yet delivered. Creative breezes pass through us in a dimension that resonates with who we are and wakes us in the night with a new vision of itself. Its radiance melts the confines of collective reality like an ice cream cone in the Santa Ana wind.
Art comes through us from no one knows where. It has to do with the biggest picture any of us can imagine. Call that God or Existence, Awareness, the Spirit, the Cosmos, it makes no difference. If it comes from the Self, it is the Self that is common to all who are in existence. It does not come from what we call our personal magnitude or greatness, and true artists know this beyond any doubt. We artists are catchers at best, receivers, like radios, not manifestors of art. We are lucky to have our catchers mitt on when the hardball of revelation comes whizzing toward our head. Art necessarily comes from that which cannot be described, as we are vehicles for yet another partial description of its truth and its beauty. Being in the presence of art is never triumphant or arrogant, but utterly humbling. We, as artists, are as astounded and emptied of willfulness as a mother who has just given birth to a living human being. We have no idea where this miracle has come from or why we have been chosen to receive it.
Cover painting and article by Ross G. Drago
Paint Rag Magazine