December 19, 2012
Dave recently posed the question to me: do we take greater care when the canvas we’re working with matters to us? For example, a tattoo on your skin might matter a whole lot more than a napkin illustration – because the canvas is human skin vs. something as disposable as a napkin.
I’ve given the question a lot of thought, and it has since led me down many rabbit holes of even more complicated, philosophical questions such as “what is art?” and “what is the value of our role as artists in society?” and “am I full of self-indulgent shit?” – questions that have managed to leave me in a state of temporary paralysis.
A cherished blank canvas is just as dangerous as a philosophical question, really. It poses lots of opportunity for procrastination, resistance, preciousness and temporary paralysis. I’d say what really matters is the message – the intent – the artist brings to the canvas. How we shape that message, and beyond that, how we share it matters even more. And it’s that message, the art we apply to a canvas, that makes it sacred. For example, a Picasso sketch on a napkin transforms that napkin. Picasso has the power to give something so seemingly disposable and mundane a whole new life – a new purpose. That is significant. That matters.
A few years ago I had an ampersand tattooed on to my ribs. It’s an intimate piece of art embedded, in ink, on my already sacred skin. But I’d dare say there’s something even more noble about elevating the mundane. Transforming something ordinary into an object of divinity with our intent may matter more than the care we bring to an already revered canvas. In fact, I’d declare it our duty as artists.
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