Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why make art?

In all the writings about why artists make art--to create commentary, documentation, revolution, revelation, truth and beauty--it seems to me that a core reason is not often mentioned: to work with our hands.

In our modern world, hand work is both reviled and revered. Those of us who value mass production and expanding growth view hand work as unreasonable and inefficient. Those of us that equate value with what is original and effort-full see hand work as precious. In a strange spiral, at the very core of mass production are copies of what was once unique. Much of our resistance to hand work comes from our dependence on machinery that helps us worship what David Suzuki called the Great God Relief From Inconvenience: relief from the inconvenience of giving our time and effort to what keeps us alive.

Martin Prechtel teaches that the two most significant gifts we can make to the Gods, to the Spirits, are the eloquence made with our words and the work made with our hands. He said that art first belongs to the Holy, and I believe that when we sit within that timeless, wordless right-brain knowing as we create with our hands, we know this to be true. When I help someone make a drum, we both are giving our effort to feed a voice that can carry our prayers. I believe that it is our hands that are able to lift the voice of a drum to true eloquence.