The answer is in constant flux. I define art to be anything created with intention. It’s a very broad definition, designed to be so in order to encapsulate all the many ways in which people can be makers. My way of interrogating meaning is to make art about it, though only the most compelling of ideas will force me to regard them so closely.
When there is a concept or phenomenon that I want to explore more deeply the only way that makes sense to me is to do that through art. The art making process can be research intensive or experiential, and if the resulting art will be good, it is a product of both.
It is certainly not necessary to arrive at art’s doorstep with a plan already in mind- even coming in “empty,” art will let me know what I’m really thinking about and will exorcise some of the stored information in my head. Art will stop the thoughts going around and around constantly so that there is something solid and physical in front of me to be contemplated.
I often refer to my “mental rolodex.” Many things are filed in the rolodex and not all of them get to break out into the light of day again. Often there is just too much clutter, paper scraps and half formed facts but when I need some bit of information and it’s there, I rejoice.
The art-making process is what allows me to synthesize disparate information and create connections between ideas to enable understanding. Often, the understanding is performed as explaining to myself. For example, my coffee and tea cup paintings show me that stillness, ritual and communing with kindred souls is desperately important to me right now.
From the starting point of the image I found that making this work is compelling to me, and has been since January of 2016, because within these aspects is my proposed answer to the tumultuous times the world finds itself in now.
Meeting and communing and enjoying the ritual of tea or coffee with a friend is a terrifyingly small step to take towards something as huge as the idea of peace, but all of the greatest progress is made in this size increment. With these small connections built over time, communities are formed whose bonds bring diverse perspectives together and weave a tapestry of mutual support.
This support is the protective glue that keeps people from being forgotten, excluded, and dehumanized. So I will continue to draw coffee cups, for now they represent connection, and by extension the pursuit of peace.
What practices do you think help bring people towards mutual understanding? (even if they're very small)