Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Europe: Letter to Ray and Cali

Dear Ray and Cali,

Coming back from Europe I was asked lot of questions: “How was it?” “Where was your favorite place?” “What did you do?” They were hard to answer and I usually gave cop-out answers.

“Wonderful, Amazing, Insert your own adjective.”
“I couldn’t pick a favorite. Oh, alright Italy.”
“Studied art.”

Your question, however, was my favorite. And the only one that required almost two months of thought. I’m still not entirely sure I have a complete answer as to why I am a better person for going to Europe, but I think I’m close.

In Europe I discovered a lot of things about myself. That sounds so cliché. A better way of stating it would be that a side of me that was dormant, but very much there, came alive.

None of this slow and steady oozing of a self-discovery. I’m talking volcano. I had three and a half weeks, five countries, ten cities, forty-three girls, two boys, seven credits, and three professors to bring out that volcano. The lava that erupted in our metaphor will affect the rest of my life.

In Europe I learned I have a lot to offer.

That is a pretty simple sentence. That sentence, however, has taken me 20 years to formulate, say, and believe.

I didn’t know it until recently, though I have always been drawn to it, but art is one of my passions. In middle and high school I remember hating the classrooms that had Garfield posters and pastel-colored geographical maps and loving the rooms that had Norman Rockwell and cool historical photographs covering the walls. In Europe it was like I was always in the good classroom with no end of eye-mesmerizing artwork. And this time I didn’t have to stop looking at it to take notes on the Civil War.

Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it must find us working.” Europe was my work. Art was my notes.

In Europe I discovered art is something I am good at. Not making art, by any means. A few mediocre watercolors and sketches are all I have to show in that area. But I found I am okay with that, that isn’t where my talent lies. Instead my talent lies in finding the meaning of art. To me meaning lies in feeling. And art is something I feel.

Rick Riordan said, “You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear through the search.” In Europe I found that not only am I good at finding the meaning of art through feeling, but I can help others in their search. I asked questions that probed, prodded, and produced feelings, ideas, and movement for myself and, often more importantly, others.

I’ve always been fascinated with the talent of others and how they choose to share them. In Europe, were I was constantly exposed to both the tangible and indefinable talents of others, I realized it would be wrong for me to not express and develop my talents in leading others to their own volcanic discovery.

I may never move viewers to tears. No one may ever spend hours gazing at something my mind, hands, and heart produced. I may never be featured in a well-lit gallery, my signature painted for all to see.

But I can teach others to feel enough passion to offer tears on sight of a piece of art. I can put my mind, hands, and heart into teaching others to appreciate and mimic the great producers of art. Instead my gallery can be a classroom with florescent lighting.

And to me, that is a lot to offer.

Love, Ande

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Oh Fiddle-Dee-Dee"

One of my all time favorite books is Gone with the Wind.

I’m sentimental. I’m a (semi) rational romantic. I’m a sucker for tragedies. And the O’Hara plantation has it all.

Scarlett O’Hara is a great character. I love her complexity. She is straightforward (as her acid tongue proves). She has courage (could I have killed that Yankee soldier?). She is resourceful (dress made from green curtains anyone?). She is strong (not many of us would vow to survive off rotten carrots). And although she takes her qualities to the negative extreme and is a perfectly despicable character, I admire her.

Unfortunately those aren’t the traits of Scarlett’s I posses. No, instead I seem to almost live and breathe by this quote:

“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”

Thanks to Scarlett O’Hara I am a procrastinator of thought. I’ve found I get sick of hearing myself process the more dismal, embarrassing, or painful parts of my existence, and so, in a fairly recent development, I just don’t.

I put off until tomorrow too many things I should have thought about yesterday.

I’ve always thought of myself as choosing the type of man that would say, as Rhett did, “Here, take my handkerchief. Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”

When really, that would never happen. I rarely cry in front of men and men don’t offer handkerchiefs anymore.

Which…I will think about tomorrow.