Musings on Art

Wednesday I’m going to meet a healer, and I have no idea what to expect. Will we dance naked in the backyard amidst a cloud of incense smoke? Will it be like a therapy session? I don’t know. She did make it clear that she’s not a medium and won’t be conjuring any spirits, but she communicates with the spirit world though it will not communicate with me. This is for my healing process, to say whatever I need to say to my mom, for closure.

The thing I’m mildly anxious about is that this healer asked me to make something for her as payment; she does not accept money. And it can’t be just anything, it has to be created in a meditative state, without thought of the outcome or how it looks.

nefertitiWhen I was about eight years old, I drew a picture of a horse based on these horse figurines that belonged to my oldest sister. The drawing looked just like the horse, which impressed my grandmother immensely. I too was surprised and flattered; I didn’t realize I could do that. It’s not something I’d ever thought about, that I recall. In high school I thought I’d become an artist, after being a writer; writer was first on my list. I was my art teacher’s favorite. Creating sculpture was my favorite. I’d made a papier mache sculpture of Queen Nefertiti, of whom I had a papyrus drawing brought back from my uncle’s travels to Nairobi. Her beauty and power drew me in. I had read about her, and wish that I still had the drawing and sculpture. But my dad had called it garbage, and I threw it out in college—not because he called it garbage, although that hurt my feelings—but because I felt that it took up too much space, and I didn’t want too many things. I have been doing this all my life–even discarding sentimental items–and I believe it has its advantages. Anyway, when I got to college I stopped creating art, and rarely created anything since, except for the occasional dabbling in painting or beading. That’s how I veered from my path, the path that was intended for me, the path of who I really am. Of course, my mom had always been encouraging and supportive of my writing and my art; she was big on being true to yourself.

In recent years my oldest sister has taken up painting, and described to me the process of painting:  it takes over you, you don’t know what you’ll end up painting. You don’t start with an idea of what it will be, and then it becomes that. But that’s not how I’ve ever done painting or drawing or any kind of art. Well, maybe my writing sometimes. But usually I have an idea beforehand of what I want to create. I think about how it looks, and I want it to be beautiful. I never start as a blank slate. Now, it may not ever end up the way I had in mind of how it would look, but that’s not because I wanted it that way.

When I was in high school I dated an artist. We kept in touch over the years, until the past few years anyway, and I remember him telling me that he’d made a painting that sold in his girlfriend’s hair salon, and that the buyer asked him what it meant. If I remember correctly, it was a painting of a fetus that looked like an alien. The question pissed him off. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he’d replied. He hated being asked that question.

But I knew it meant something. Everything means something. Whether we’re aware of it or not, it means something. And as an aside, my interpretation of an alien fetus is that you’re pregnant with something that you don’t recognize; you’ll be giving birth to, or creating, something new and otherworldly. An appropriate theme for this blog.

It’s hard to do something without thinking about it, or attaching a meaning to it. Even the color I choose have a meaning associated with it, and for me to try not to do it imposes… I can’t think of the appropriate word, but maybe anxiety, or struggle, that defeats the purpose of the exercise.

On the other hand, maybe that’s the problem with my art. Maybe I need to start over with a clean slate and do it without thinking so much. That’s what I’m about to attempt to do, right now. We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a beautiful song by Valerie June–she reminds me Queen Nefertiti on her album cover.


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