a choice is made every time you step foot into a studio, every time you pick up pen and ink, pencil and brush, hammer and torch, a hide of leather, a bolt of fabric, a sack of clay, whatever the chosen art form happens to be.
It take a choice to produce that which you feel in your heart-soul and mind's-eye; it takes choosing to sit at your craft for longer hours than may be comfortable, to keep pressing onward when your medium falters and technical problems threaten your sanity; it takes choosing to believe in the work of your hands enough to dedicate your time, your sweat, your tears, your hopes and your dreams.
But when I say
"Art Is Not A Choice"
I am talking not about production but about ART. That thing which is so much bigger than rendering an accurate drawing or crafting the perfect word for a poem. That thing that defies easy definition, because it spans a spectrum between simply recognizing the humble beauty in dandelions all the way to painting the Sistine Chapel. Art is a part of our human DNA, it is a lens upon our vision, it is a surge in our hearts, and whether or not we act upon it, it most certainly exists within each and every one of us.
I believe that we are created beings, and therefore creation and creativity run rich in our marrow.
I believe that we are all blessed with imagination, with vision.
I believe that no matter what we label (or do not label) ourselves as, art pumps in and through our systems just as reliably as our more visceral physiology.
I believe that while Art and "making" are intrinsically connected, they are not one and the same.
Now naturally we can not all be painters or writers or sculptors or smiths (and thank god! We NEED the people gifted with powerful left brains!) but I've always been rather offended by the idea that Art only exists in "artists." I believe with every fiber of my being that All people hold a spark, wound into the path of their fingerprint or delicately stretched across their tongue. I believe that even if one is not a "maker," one still has Art singing in every mitochondria.
Art Is Not A Choice
because Art lives within us. When the flame of life first rushed our splitting cells, Art was right there. It may become a little dusty around the edges, we may forget we hold it, even deny it, but it is still there, permanently attached to our eternal souls.
Some time back, when I first took this mantra on for myself, it was at a time when I was struggling with putting hours in the studio. When it had been a stretch of time since my last finished painting, when a seed of doubt whispered "you've forgotten how to make pictures." I had two shows fast approaching, a work schedule that dipped into any and every hour of the week, and a choking sense of anxiety that I would flop. I spent one long afternoon alone in the studio, ranting at powers unseen until I finally collapsed in a weepy pile and slept on the dirty floor. When I awoke, bits of sawdust and dried paint stuck to my cheek, I felt a clarity, a calmness I had not felt in a long time. And I painted. And I remembered. And magic happened. But most importantly, I understood this: I would need to work at my craft, I would need to dedicate my time, but Art, ART would never leave me because ART was inside of me.
So I tell you this with perfect assurance today:
Wherever you are, whatever your level of creating or making or collecting or seeing,
YOU HAVE ART.
IT IS WITHIN YOU.
And that is why I say Art Is Not A Choice.