navigating loneliness


"Do you know what happens to babies when you leave them alone? They die...." uttered by a friend this morning as we headed to an orphanage that she works at.

My students are working on a multimedia project for her, creating an informational CD to be shown to potential volunteers, chronicaling the process for caring for these babies, some of which are handicapped and ill.

Its quite a humbling experience as you walk in and see literally dozens of babies. A couple of my students just didn't know what to do. They were afraid to hold them, touch them. There was this fear of the vunerable and fragile, I guess.

These babies are resilient though, that's why they are still here. How can you be afraid of babies? Its so easy to make them happy. Just a little touch and smile and their eyes light up. Even so, some are just not ready to reach out and make that connection. These children don't really have a choice about whether or not they are left alone.

Which is very different from adults. As we get older and become more self-reliant, in some of us, there is this preference to be alone and dwell in loneliness because its more productive somehow. I read an article this week on Charles Shultz, the creator of "Peanuts" and the man liked to be depressed, he clung to it.

But "He's an artist." That's always the explaination, isn't it. A brilliant artist is most likely a depressed artist. They draw creativity from their depression. Having been there once, I might just have to agree, depression is very productive creatively. But if depression is always a part of the equation of being a brilliant artist, I choose not to be. I guess I'm not hardcore, I don't live for my "Art", I live for my happiness.

What then are artists seeking to accomplish in their work? Is it understanding more? Communicating? Bridging a gap among different communities of people? Creating empathy? I attended an artist talk this evening and listened as these international artists spoke of their work. The majority of it was about finding their "identity", reaching out to their community to seek answers, or showing the beauty in the life of ordinary working people.

Yet as I left the event early and waited for my xe om driver, I looked back at the glass doors of the gallery. A crowd of local people had gathered outside, curious, peering in at the group of artists, yet afraid to go inside, feeling unwelcomed. One local women did go in to clean up a spill and was quickly asked to leave. Why couldn't she stay? What was oh-so-important that someone had to shoo her away?

As she stepped out, everyone around her asked, "What is it about?" "It looks like an important meeting." Although she only experienced just a glimpse of what was inside, she was somehow privileged, part of something that people on the outside weren't.

Sigh....Lofty talk about art for and about the people, yet the people that are being used/portrayed in some of the work do not feel welcomed enough to go in and see it? WTF? So what if they don't understand the language. One can still appreciate art and music without knowing the words.

Way to go, you're really connecting with the community now. If I was a smoker, I would have had a smoke then. What a long day its been. I am privileged and I am grateful, I will remember that.

Below is an article about Charles Schultz.
Passages: The Life and Times of Charles Schulz

5 Comments:

At 11/11/2007 10:22 AM, Blogger JENNY said...

lol.. im going to danang on march 21 through 30!

 
At 11/19/2007 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent analysis and comparison!! Can't say much more than that. :)

 
At 11/20/2007 10:17 AM, Blogger Khanh said...

Not all artists are depressing...there are happy artist, making happy works, and in turn making a happy world...do you know who are happy artists?...printmakers are happy artists, with great smile, because they are natural collaborator...problems solver more like...I enjoy your comment about art...its interesting...give me some idea about contemporary art in Vietnam

 
At 11/22/2007 1:48 AM, Blogger snowtweety said...

Yeah, I loved printmaking. I have not found an open print studio here in Vietnam yet, but once I do I will be heading back into the studio to get out some frustration about the the art world. LOL :)

 
At 11/25/2007 4:43 PM, Blogger Khanh H. Le said...

lol...the art world is frustrating,...ok, honestly, its sucks...those who choose to works in it as a career knows how disgusted it can get...but then there are those of us that keep telling ourselves that it could change, it could be better, and what we doing right now matter...it's little, but that little hope alone carries us through the next day and the day after to do the things that we need to be doing. I hope you do find that printshop...your voice, however way it is you view the artworld, it matters-because its part of a larger discussion and dialogue of contemporary art whether it is inside/outside of VN. If you don't find that printshop, I am teaching alternative printmaking for a month in HCMCUFA this december you should definitely come...printmaking, the most democratic art making process I know- its not just for privilege few, but for the many (in term of multiples).

 

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