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End of the Year Musing

At times when I become this sweet and mellow, it makes me reflect and wonder whether I am a wishful and naïve dreamer, utopian or simply losing my marbles. I shall let you know in the forthcoming blogs.

I seem to be a voyager on a life that propels me in often the least expected by yet always desired, and welcomed with wide open arms and mind, quests around the world. Thus, yet again, given this somewhat unstable, transitory and shifting under my own feet state of my life, this very year, I admit to not having been as prolific in writing for my blog as I was at other times, and truly desire to be at all times. For this I ask a pardon from those who read me and look forward to what the hell will he come up with next?

Yesterday I elected to visit the end of term works in progress exhibition of students projects put up by the Fine Art and New Media program near by. By the way, to put it in a geographic context, I am currently in California, a region of this country of ours which I have always considered to be very progressive, in some ways ahead of most of the others, except for NYC of course, mind you, not the NY State at large.

But let me put “yesterday” in the context of this week. A few days ago I attended a presentation by an individual, in fact a designer, who supposedly is considered to be rather successful and visionary. Yet this was to be my first exposure to his endeavors. While the title of the event sounded thrilling, implying truly far reaching and futuristic ideas, the actual presentation came far short of my anticipation and highly lit expectations. While the man is known and respected in both the creative as well as academic spheres, during the demonstration I felt that while it may had been his perceptions of what may lie ahead that earned him such a repute, the actual imagery was, in my humble opinion, poorly conceptualized, visualized and designed. In other words, I was disappointed, instead of being reinvigorated and inspired.

But it was the ensuing Q&A that made the experience truly worthwhile. I was astounded by the intellectual depth of questions put to him by the graduate students in the audience. They did not only projected deep thinking, education and concerns in a global sense of the way but were, for the most part, right on, also expressed very eloquently indeed. It even seems to me that they caught the speaker by surprise. They certainly did it for me. I was impressed. In fact I felt that they, in the intelligent and analytical sort of a way, surpassed the passive and rather uninspiring looking and sounding speaker. By the end of the event I felt like the future of humanity will be in caring and thoughtful hands, once these young people take over.

These students clearly read and studied a range of scholarly, philosophical and historic essays of famous writers whose thoughts, musings, visions and ideas made them think, deeply. That is great, I admire it. It means that their professors are exposing these young people to important retrospectives accumulated throughout out the human evolution, and that is their responsibility, and the very reason why these students are paying through their, or their parents noses for the privileges of higher education.

Yet, on the other hand, the event which followed a few days later, to which I am about to delve into, made me wonder whether this critical research of thoughts of others is sufficiently balanced by challenges designed to cause these young minds to reflect equally on who they themselves are within. Are they provided occasions for probing and analyzing themselves, to then share their very musings with others?

Over my somewhat turbulent life’s journey, as a crummy student I was in my youth, I had not truly taken sufficient advantage of such scholarly exploits provided by research of philosophical thinking of others. I guess my efforts were directed at making it through the storms that, at times, propelled my life in the most unexpected directions. Yet, this may be exactly why I turned inwards, reflecting on who I am and what my feeling, ideas, passions and resulting aspirations, as well as meaningful objectives ought to be, and then, through my own artwork, reflecting upon the feelings swirling within me at a given time and space.

Jump back to the future - yesterday’s exhibition. The organic fine art, presented by the undergraduates was, in my view, immature, dull and unimaginative. The life drawing was all but passionate or sensuous and the lines looked dead upon contact with paper. Most of the prints and sculptures looked weak in terms of artistic craftsmanship and rendering, and any ideas or thoughtfulness or emotional qualities attempted at did not emanate much either, at least to me, but I do not dare to speak for anyone else. Yet on second thought, I might be projecting myself as being too polite and proper. After all I am but perfect…

From there I advanced to an exhibition of New Media by the graduates who were clearly only just testing the waters. I listed to many young artists, using a variety of New Mediums, explaining to visitors the meaning of their artworks. Visibly, their intents were deeply felt and important to themselves. These students were clearly conscious of ideological, social, political, economic or ecological challenges our society is currently facing. Which is great, for they represent our future. So it is wonderful to hear that they care, care a lot.

Yet their artwork was all but reflective of these qualities. Some were flashy, sparkly and shiny, others were projecting graphic imagery accompanied by typography, without which the objective would most likely be lost on the viewer. Others still, especially constructs and large sculptural pieces, some capable of motions, were short on emotions. In other words, the artworks failed to project the deep ideas, thinking or emotions felt by their creators, vital qualities which these young people so very much wished to share with others. But, to be fair, this is work in progress, so hopefully, further efforts over the next semester will pay off.

For now though, in reflection, what was missing to me were the deeper thinking processes funneled into conceptual distillation, resulting in design which is analyzed, challenged and refined over and over until the resulting artwork becomes capable of reflecting ideas wishing to be projected by their artist.

As is now, I question whether this is due to the faculty’s weaknesses, or could it be gentleness of critique they offer to their students, or maybe emotional sensitivity and political correctness with which they treat their thoughtful, caring and sensitive students? Yet without being contested while in the security of school, will these young people learn to see their art from the perception that is outside of themselves?

Yet putting it all in perspective, I have to admit that in my extensive time as an artist as well as a mentor, I have seen plenty of students artistic work that more than often has been self-indulgent or comprehensible only to their own makers. That is why, having taught students in diverse cultural, political, social and economic milieus, I have concluded that the greatest kindness a mentor can do for his or her mentorees is to be sensitive but direct and poignant in critique, insisting of reflection and distillation of the essence of their own ideas, feelings, story, meaning or intents they seek and desire to share with their viewers.

So, while, for now, disappointed, I am looking forward to seeing how these bright, caring and coconscious young individuals will evolve over their time and whether they will begin to acquire the mastery and clarity that so often represents the greatest challenge to any artist no matter what the medium of choice may be. Yet what the students I encountered here have going for them is a passion and desire to make the world a better, more meaningful space, and not just for themselves but others too. Here lies the vital hope.

Walking back through the woods, I kept reflecting on the feeling awakened and stirred in me by both the experiences. So, looking at surrounding trees, representing such potent and truly unsurpassed models of Nature’s amazing artistry, I could not help but to take my camera out to capture just a few expressions which seemed to synergize with the partially mixed, frustrated and confusing emotions swirling within me.

Or, just maybe, the proximate trees sensed the turbulence within my mind and chose to reach out to me? For, after all this time scientists seem to be admitting the obvious, that the other life forms with which we share our earthly realities, are alive, sensitive, communicative, emotional and capable of their own kind of intelligence. And hence, homo sapiens are not the only ones, or maybe even not as special as we deem.

The feeling of being watched closely, being followed by nature’s eyes calmed me down and put it all in a more reflective perspective. That is a magical ability of Nature which I wish we had greater respect for.

I must say that I find it amazing how other Nature’s creatures, surrounding us, even if we are unaware or oblivious to them, can seemingly sense, then reflect upon and even identify with our feeling and thoughts.

Henceforth I end this, shorter than usual a blog, with these few images reflecting my quizzical sentiments.

Some of you may not see their relevance, yet maybe this alone will prove to be thought and reflections provoking? Or, maybe, these images proved to me to be so alluring, at that very given time, because of my own bizarre and twisted, at times, even a rectal state of mind? I shall reflect upon this during the approaching bulimic holidays. Meanwhile, I wish those of you who read me, a truly Animated New Year.

May we humans become more humane, reflective and caring for all the life forms we share our life with.

At times when I become this sweet and mellow, it makes me reflect and wonder whether I am a wishful and naïve dreamer, utopian or simply losing my marbles. I shall let you know in the forthcoming blogs.

For now, what the hell, let’s end on the stirring image found on Google and reflective of a wintery season.