If there is such a thing as a soul, an intangible gathering of energy that lives on no matter the body (young, old, male, female) then I believe Art is the way it lets itself be known, compelling our bodies to create the inarticulate – whether with paint, clay, words or music. Our ability to create objects that hold no purpose, other than to sit and be stared and wondered at, is what makes us human, as opposed to all other beings.
No other animal expresses itself through color or uses instruments to create harmony. To me, this is our humanity: our compassion, our communal connection that weaves us together as people, and at times, I worry that art is no longer valued as it should be; that we will forsake ourselves because it is not logical, solves no problems and has no answers.
It just IS; Art is an is, yet it is an Is because as people we just exist, we don’t understand; we deep down long to know our purpose, but it is forever unknown to us, so on some level we will always be unknown to ourselves.
Art opens up our inner doors, and at times artists only intuit what they’re striving to express, and if asked, “Why?” some would say, “just because,” or as Monet famously responded, “I am trying to paint the air,” or, “I am trying to take what I know is all around me yet cannot see.”
Does that even make sense; that a living, breathing mammal chose to spend their life focused on a task that has nothing to do with their survival?
I believe that this is our gift; that it can elevate us to expand beyond our own selfish ego and pin-pointed, center-of-ourselves universe perspective. This is why Art must be honored because all gifts are made up of honor and responsibility.
No other animals are offered such luxurious choices (to creation & expression), and while I’m not posing that other animals cannot have souls, maybe we are the only species lucky enough to be gifted with a purpose that is more than just survival.
However, I believe that if we do not honor our gifts, then a price will be paid, and (at times) I believe it is already being paid. How many people are happy with the way the world is set up now; with constant communication coming from every corner, filling up all the silences that are a natural part of life?
How many people can connect with their soul in this current noise? And to those who say, “But this is progress,” I say, “You are a fool not to acknowledge progression’s shadow,” for all light-bearing things cast them.
We, as humans, are so caught up in our own structures and systems that we forget what is divine within us, and I use divine consciously because Art requires the same devotion as God, to have faith in the illogical, to an activity that cannot be explained, but one that provides comfort, evokes emotion and breaks us out of our language, which is structure itself.
For what else is God-like, present yet unseen, sitting at the bottom of us, asking to be worshipped, asking to be honored and heard? What else helps us forgive ourselves for our humanity’s imperfections, what else can live on, telling our stories, speaking to others, representing us once we are gone?