Monday, May 12, 2008

Responding with Art

It seems to me we have had some very serious and severe weather which has caused a lot of destruction and loss of life around the world. There has been the whole horrible business of the cyclone in Myanmar, the terrible tornadoes in the southern US and now the tremendous earthquake in central China. My heart breaks for those who are in the middle of all of this and my heart swells with gratitude for those who are helping these people recover.

When I am so touched by anything, I often find it makes its way into my art in some way. At least I have had this experience in the past. I think this might be true in many art forms. Last night I watched a wonderful documentary about the NY Philharmonic Orchestra's concert in North Korea, and it renewed my interest in how art can be a wonderful bridge to build when trying to unite cultures. Can art also heal those involved in these natural disasters? Can art be a peaceful way to heal wounds of many kinds?


This is an old painting I did after the earthquake in Pakistan several years ago. We were living in England at the time that happened and the BBC kept showing these people living under draped blankets in the middle of a beautiful park. I kept thinking about how amazing it was these people were living on top of the earth in this very beautiful park, but the earth beneath it was shifting and at some place there was a crack or cracks in the surface. This painting was my response to that. Obviously, it is called Cracked Earth is acrylic on 24" x 36" gallery wrapped canvas.



This is what has been happening where I am right now. Rain is also acrylic on 12" x 16" gallery wrapped canvas. We have had almost 4" of rain in the last 18 hours. Now I have been through more rain when we lived in Texas, however this is a lot different geography than there. Believe me, I am not complaining about the rain here. I do not mind at all.

This particular little painting is so appealing to young teenagers. I have no idea why, but so many of my nieces and nephews have wanted these "Rain" paintings. Maybe it is because when you are a teenager there seems to be a lot of "raining on your parade".

So do you ever respond with your art to news, weather, etc.?

13 comments:

sukipoet said...

So many things come to mind when reading this interesting post. Firstly I love both paintings. Rain is marvelous and how fascinating that so many young people in particular love it. You seem to respond in a direct way to some of the weather disasters.

I don't think I do that. More, feeling sad inside I do some art/craft because I know I cant take away the disaster. But creating something makes me feel I'm doing something. More as a means of assuaging my own sadness. But not directly reflecting on the occurance.

I saw a video (3hrs) abt crafstpeople in America this weekend. One man did ceramic pieces all of which reflected political concerns such as anti-war sentiments in particular. He said he had so much anger in himself re: war that he needed to express it in his work.

Of course Picasso painted "Guernica" in direct reflection of the horror of war. Just for a couple of examples.

Listening to radio programs post Katrina, artist spoke of how the hurricane changed their work. How their work now reflected the trauma they had been through. and also some artists used the actual debris left behind in their work.

Another radio program reflected on some of the destruction in the middle east (not sure if it was in Iraq or elsewhere) and how artists of various disciplines were changed in their perspectives and what they did. An entire music school destroyed with all the pianos and instruments. This is a vague statement as my memory is but scattered and indefinite but I just recalled the idea of how these traumas effect the artist in their work.

By the way there has also been a volcano eruption in Chile causing many to be evacuated. The first eruption in 9000 years. The earth is certainly rumbling and mumbling and spewing.

WILSONART said...

Gosh,,as if the cyclone and tornado events weren't enough,,,now the horrific earthquake in China!

Very interesting post, Kim.
Your first photo here,,,it's hard to imagine that the inspiration was such devastation,,,as it is SO beautiful! But then, some of THE most awesome views of skies have been in tornadic conditions.
I've tried to capture some of those in paint, and haven't really been satisfied with the results. Those natural sky colors are so hard to replicate.
I did however do a small oil pastel of some local heavy flooding, and an acrylic of an ice storm,,,,,so yes,,,,I believe it effects our art,,,in profound ways,,,although personally I find it very difficult to achieve wonderful results, like I've seen others do.

Kim said...

Hi Suki,

Well, the first painting, "Cracked Earth" was really quite direct. I just couldn't get that out of my mind...that park was so beautiful and even the people's blankets and clothing was so colorful. Rain, was just a technique I was playing with and did quite a few of those on a small scale.

Yes, I can imagine many artist would respond with more of the feelings of their heart as opposed to the directness of these two pieces. I have just not been as aware of of doing that myself.

I think I remember reading about some of those post-Katrina artist, too. We were in England at the time, so the coverage was more in print/internet that I received on that subject (along with, now, the work my father does helping people rebuild now). I can imagine how it changes things...just like other life changing events.

Oh yes, Suki, I am glad you remembered the volcano eruption. You are right, the earth is speaking...we need to be listening, don't we?

Thanks so much!

Kim said...

You know, Babs, I had not thought of that, but some very beautiful colors and shapes have come from what is difficult for humans and animals to deal with. When you separate those ominous pre-tornadic skies from the event unfolding, they are quite beautiful...how true!

Natural sky colors, I think are so impossible because they are reflected light and not really colors as we understand them as pigments. I wonder if layers and layers of thin washes would make it easier?

I would love to see your oil pastel, Babs! I bet it is beautiful! And the ice storm...now that has to be incredible...those are beautiful to see...no doubt!

Well, now apparently there is a real wild fire going in Florida, of all places! Well, I guess they will be having some lovely new growth happening down there in the next few years! I have spent enough time in Montana to have a great deal of respect for those fires.

Thanks so much, Babs, I know you have a great deal of respect for what Mother Nature can do...I have been watching closely about the location of the tornadoes in OK! I am keeping my eye on you, girl! :)

katie jane said...

You are so right, the Earth is a living, breathing planet and ever changing, even though we don't always see it so dramatically. I don't suppose my art has ever been affected by distasters. I never really thought about that. Rather, I guess, I celebrate the beauty of living things. But it's interesting to read how everyone else has a slant on this.

Kim said...

Hi Kate! You are right, we do not always see the dramatic impact of our living, breathing earth...or for some of us, we don't recognize the power until it impacts us personally or as humans. The thing is, for me, there are so many beautiful parts of this earth and as artists, I feel, we can bring that beauty to focus for others. There is so much beauty in the cycle of life, I think. Right now, it just all seems (but maybe I am wrong) a little out of balance.

Thanks, Kate, I am enjoying your posts...love the wall and the door, too! :)

Lynette said...

:( It's just mind-boggling to think of how many have lost their lives in all the disasters lately, so very sad! Kim I think both of these paintings are so gorgeous! I love that combination of colors in 'Cracked Earth' and the moody feeling of 'Rain' with the slashing rain is one I can sure identify with. Ugh, we've had enough rain lately.

Kim said...

Hi Lynette!

It is amazing how many natural incidences have killed so many lately. I keep asking myself if it is an un-natural amount or if we are so connected we just hear about them all now. You know? At any rate, it does effect us all in some way, I think. We all have our own special ways of helping and that is what the human spirit does...help.

Thank you for your kind words about these paintings. As you well know, those lower layers in "Cracked Earth" are not my normal choices...but it is what seemed right at the time. "Rain" now that is more of the colors I am drawn to. When I was doing those, I just wanted to play with colors and keep the application very simple...it seemed right at the time.

You are right, we have had a lot of rain in the last day or so. I don't mind, though! I am happy for it to stay cool for a while...I know the heat and humidity are on the way...do you think I spent enough time in east Texas? LOL

Thanks so much, Lynette!

Jess said...

The cracked earth painting is beautiful. I love those layers of colours. Thanks for being a lovely support for me recently.
Jess x

Kim said...

Thank you, Jess! I was so inspired when I lived in your beautiful country!

Well, you have sure been through a lot...I am glad I could say something helpful.

sukipoet said...

Kim that's wonderful that your Dad is helping to rebuild, that he has the talents and skills and time and energy to help out. It is a long process. On NPR they have been following several families since the hurricane, talking to them about the rebuilding process and so forth. Years it goes on for.

Kim said...

Hi Suki,

Dad's work is really wonderful. His organization goes into areas after the initial organizations (Red Cross/Salvation Army) have moved on. They do a lot of rebuilding of homes for those who do not have the means or insurance to cover those things. He sends teams, and goes himself, to these areas like every other month or so. At 70, he does great.

You are right, for years. Every team Dad has sent out this year (and will send out) has gone to New Orleans' 9th Ward! At least down there, it has been a long process. You would not believe what they have to do in dealing with local governments! The red tape is amazing...and all this time, people are without their homes!

Thanks Suki!

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