I was watching a dancer friend of mine perform a very demanding and complex dance piece. I remembered how hard she worked on it, for over a year, practicing every day until she got it perfect. You could tell the audience was riveted. The technique was perfect. The passion she expressed while dancing it connected everyone in the audience to her and towards an inner focus of appreciation. It made me think about this performance as a gift. For surely one who works so hard to create such perfection is in actuality creating a gift. She will never see her performance. And once the performance is over nothing remains but the memory. It was for the audience and therefore created as a gift.
It made me think about my art medium – painting, and how this plays a part in our process as an artist. Perhaps a work of art is successful or has the chance to be very powerful when the artist is so obsessed in the making, that the artist loses a piece of themselves in the artwork. This art then is a precious gift or offering, and equipped with an important ingredient – a piece of the artist themselves.
And so the opposite may be true as well. If the art is made for vanity alone, to show off the artist’s skill as a means of ego enhancement, or for profit and sales alone, then it may lose the opportunity to contain this “essence of artist”, and to be a gift that carries that awe, the mystery of human life itself.