Night Children

“A lost person or article is still what it is, still valuable in itself, but in the wrong place, disconnected from its purpose and unable to be or do whatever it is intended to be or do.” 

In my personal life, I’ve found myself floundering between the notion of myself as an artist and as an activist.  Is activism an art?  To some degree I believe it is.  I would like to think of activism as concrete: binding bricks together that otherwise would have never touched.  However, I worry that bricks of my activism are too far separated from the charcoal that once marked my artistry.  

Art is essentially about creating something tangible that provides some sort of insight.  This definition is solely for my own purposes.  I acknowledge that art is different for everybody, and it’s really an experience that is unique on a personal level.  However, I worry that I am no longer connected with the world of paint to canvas artists because I no longer yearn to create tangible beauty (or terror or anything in between) for a living.  

I suppose the creation of ideas is equally as valid as the creation of sculpture or poetry or theatrical adaptation.  However, ideas, though long lasting, are viewed through a different, more intellectual lens than dance and spontaneous organic body movement or charcoal lines on paper.  I valued my role as an artist so so much, and I feel almost as if I can’t identify with that role anymore, which raises questions of identity and the human need to identify oneself and others.  I feel like part of my current “artistry” involves dispelling the need for identification and advocates for a sort of fluid existence where personal identification only exists to give meaning rather than to create order.  

And perhaps my purpose is to inspire art rather to create art.  Maybe my understanding of identity (or lack thereof) is supposed to compel others to create visual, bodily, and poetic representations of their own identity (or lack thereof).  Maybe I’m supposed to inspire a generation, an idea, a construction.  Maybe I’m just supposed to inspire one person.  Or perhaps I’m supposed to be the follower, the person who stands in awe of others and their creation and their minds and their notions of the world.  

I feel like there has to be a healthy mix of the two of these.  I can’t safely understand my ability to artistically lead without also understanding my need to follow the lead of others.  

When I write, I wonder if I am capitalizing upon my own understanding of my identity or if I am constructing an identity for myself based on my understanding of the world.  It’s a very finite process, writing.  Even though text is so easy to edit and change, I feel as if text and words and sentences manifest themselves a certain way for a reason.  Whether they are meant to be changed from their original state, I really don’t know.  I do know that I feel guilty editing my initial thoughts because I often feel as if I am second guessing myself (my original ideas and notions) in order to create a more comfortable and acceptable identity.  

“You can’t touch someone who isn’t there.
You can reach your arms out, and strain your shoulders.
Extending elbows and opening palms.
You can uncurl each hinged finger-joint
And hope they’ll appear
Right in front of you like nothing ever went sour.
Five uncurled joints won’t make the milk go good.
And again, a fist.
A fist that held one thousand butterflies
Opens up.
They’re just moths.”
This is the very first things I ever wrote that made me feel like an artist.  Unedited, untouched.  I remember being in pain, and the words crawled out of my hands while I was sitting in my Freshman Geology class.  I have no conceptual understanding of these words as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘satisfactory.’  They just are.  They are  manifestations of the way I felt at that very moment.  The torture I felt.  I don’t know if art necessarily needs torture.  I would like to think it does.  Torture makes everything a little more personal and slightly more real for me, anyway.  That’s not to say that great art can’t come from joy or happiness, I’ve just never experienced a time in which I made art in the wake of joy.  It’s all a little frightening.  But it’s also very calming and peaceful at the same time.  These words make me feel more like a present part of the conversation.  They make me feel like a vehicle and a voice instead of just an observer. 

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