Art Is Important! Expression Is Vital To The Human Condition




A bird.

These two images make you think… that expression (in this case, the creation of artwork) is vitally important to the human condition. I would be 100 percent right if I stated to you that the person who painted this bird; was an artist who understand fully and lucidly, the freedom of a bird’s flight; and also had undying appreciation of our avian communities… their ability to use their wings to ‘rise above it all’. The mere artist can only “fly” after all, when absorbed in the expression of art.

We’ve been in the midst of a so called blizzard here in the Nor’ East. Blizzard Colby to be exact, but I hardly call 15 inches a blizzard. Anyway the news was remarking upon the large number of babies that were born during the blizzard. Gee, I wonder how many of them will be named Colby… I was sick with flu for a week before the storm came with sweats, 103 degree fever, chills lasting hours, head pain, coughing, congestion, etc. I think without creative expression I might’ve had a terrible time of being a shut-in. But I’ll tell you one of the things I did. A month ago I bought a plain wooden box and a Victorian calendar. When you open the box, it has a mirror inside. There is a lower drawer as well which I’m going to line with velvet when I get to a store for material. Sorry, I didn’t think to take a picture of the box before I started working on it.

This is what the box looked like an hour into the decoupage project:


 Decoupage: The art of cutting out images from paper and affixing them to surfaces with a clear glue, in this case: Mod-Podge. One of my most favorite things to do! Below, here is a picture of my box about 8 hours into the project:

 unnamed (1)

          I have done a lot of decoupaging and what I like to do is use paint to “antique” the pictures with a dry rubbing of paint. This box needs a lot more antiquing, but it’s almost there! The activity certainly helped me through a dreary day. Maybe you’re a whistler, a whittler, a writer or a doodler? Maybe you paint, draw, take photographs, sculpt, sing, or play an instrument? Expressing oneself is important. Take for example, the following painting:


“Radiation,” 1989. Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova ScotiaCredit Courtesy of the Robert Pope Foundation website:

This painting was created by Robert Pope, who died in 1992 from an aggressive form of Hodgkin’s disease… I understand that the red lines that are bisecting are in fact the machine honing in on the body part. But I see it also as a cross. And that, that is symbolic of so much more than the throes of illness. How can I not be moved by the depiction of this body riddled with cancer, undergoing yet another procedure? I can only imagine the artist, his palette, his thoughts while he created this.

There is a whole profession out there consisting of counselors who study artwork, evaluate trends in human figure drawings of abused children, people who try to interpret what the artist felt during its creation, study the art for hidden depictions of trauma, the meanings behind their color choices, subject matter, etc. etc. I am very happy and also encouraged that for survivors of child abuse, rape, cancer and other traumas, there are programs all over the free world that encourage expression through art.

When I was little, a couple of traumatic things happened in my world. I let my imagination run randy through the tumble of boulders that was a dumping ground for trash like gutless TVs, fenders, and shattered glass. This secluded area was not far from the billboard and the highway where I lived. Woodchucks, rabbits, snakes and rats lived in and around my boulder playground. I saw a black cat wrestle a snake and win.

I collected shards of sparkling brown and green; they were my jewels, my treasure!  I draped slimsy cloths of faded use upon scant trees with withered branches-     between a rock and a hard place   -they were my world’s curtains. With a tree arm I swept my palace. In cracked ceiling globes that formerly lit rooms, I gathered rotten wood for pretend chicken and dandelion leaves made fine faux salad. I remember my pinky finger upturned like a soap opera lady as I raised a chipped mug with a Joe’s Place logo to my lips with invisible tea, invisible steam, it was so hot and felt imaginarily good when I fake drank it. There stared the Child Me at the hollowed-out TV I rearranged on a flat rock ‘just-so.’ I gazed into it, forgetting my woes, pondering the meaning of nearby graffiti:

If You Love It Set It Free…’

Never underestimate the benefits of exercising the imagination, or

journaling (I kept over 17 of them), or music, meditation and-


Before you judge a piece of artwork, before you critique it, or even dismiss it, consider the emotions expended to create it. I liken it to a person filled with rage who “gets it all out” by pummeling a punching bag. Or the overwrought, weary individual who meditates to feel centered and go on with this whole business of life. The canvas is the punching bag, the mantra, the labyrinth.  Ever see a Jason Pollock? I have, in New Haven. Those canvases are huge!

What you may not know about him is he was an alcoholic who died at 44 by crashing into a tree. People enabled and exploited him by plying him with drinks just to see what crazy antics he’d get up to… He once cleaned statues as a profession. He was also a janitor. Said he,

“People have always frightened and bored me-

 consequently I have been within my own shell.”

He had the right to create whatever art he chose, whatever art he needed. But—-

Imagine having to work at your art in complete secrecy? Imagine trying to draw on toilet tissue? How about if you had to sharpen a nail on a piece of stone so you could  carve a wooden sculpture from a chair leg? Then…because drawing, or any form of creative expression is not allowed, you bury your art, hoping someday, someone might dig them up and maybe glimpse the circumstances under which they were created. That was the harsh reality for the mostly Jewish inmates of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who, despite facing severe punishment (or even death), created illegal art and either hid it or smuggled it to the outside world. These amazing artifacts included sketches, paintings, sculptures, jewelry — even a doll that was used as a hiding place for prisoners’ secret correspondence. It’s 2015 and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I’ll repost the two previous art images here, with details about them:


bird– Birkenau. Detail photograph of larger Königsgraben painting.
Photo credit: Florida Center for Instructional Technology.


cherubs–  Auschwitz. Cherubs painting from a washroom in block 7.
Photo credit: Florida Center for Instructional Technology.

 So yes, these are paintings, created despite threats of death or severe inhumane punishment, by victims who eventually died in camps. Now that you know this, you TRULY SEE the bird.

Did the cherubs symbolize the innocence of youth? Children washing themselves clean? Did a give the slightest joy to those who gazed upon it?
Do you see what I mean now, about the bird and all it represents? There is an appreciation there that most of us cannot know. I wanted to mention the Auschwitz liberation anniversary in a way that celebrates some of its victims.
Incidentally and not for the faint of heart, some actual video footage produced by Alfred Hitchcock has been discovered, depicting the liberation of Auschwitz…

 I have to go now… another of my favorite pasttimes is visiting my grandson and he’s just walked in! By for now! LIKE this blog if you like this blog. 

Inmate Art from Auschwitz and Birkenau:

Museum Exposes Illegal Art of Auschwitz:

Museum Exposes Illegal Art of Auschwitz

Art Therapy Helps Abused Children Find Their Voice:

things you didn’t know about Pollock:

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