Art as Offering

For the last 3 + years I have been adding pictures of the sunrise to Facebook, Twitter and more recently Instagram. I live on the beach in south Florida and it has always been an impetus to share this view and some inspiring quotes.... some meaningful, some funny but always inspired by the mood making itself known that morning. Earlier this year I decided to make a book about some of these moments and used the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" as a jumping off point for my title, "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise". I self-published the book and put it on Amazon. Though I have a great support system of friends, the book has not done well. I keep thinking and hoping it will do better but it is what it is. I wonder if I somehow missed the point that this is an offering in the midst of the "doing" to make this thing a published event. I wonder if I focused too much on what it meant for me to have an ISBN and lost where it was always about sharing and offering.

Recently I was listening to a great show on On Being with Krista Tippett with Matthew Sanford, a yoga instructor in MN. He talks about an accident that took away his ability to walk. Ultimately the interview is about his ability to reconnect with his body. The impetus is exploring what trauma, physical or mental, does to the body and how sometimes, as the result of traumas, we disconnect our minds and bodies. Now bear with me here because this connection is a long shot but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have listened to the show three times to work through this revelation. I have an absolute disconnect in Mind and Body. I think one of the ways I work through this is by doing art. But in the end, art can be very intellectual. What if the connection between the mind and the body happen as an offering? What if living or art becomes the offering and it pushes the emotion outwards? I strongly believe that we work through personal belief systems and create a visual language in our own practice of art and the moment we are able to transcend the egotistic self our vision becomes universal. It becomes something that may benefit others. It becomes that offering, something that is shared or adopted and made into something else and hopefully something more.

In the face of the fear and rejection and the emotional rehash of traumas and beauty, the moment the artist's work becomes universal is the moment they surrender it outwards. There is a tenuous thread here that matters and it feels connected to something deeper and more universal. Maybe that is why it can be healing. I have always wondered why art is revered, protected and placed on a pedestal throughout the ages and it does not support Food, Shelter, Sex (a minimization of Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Why is it that we look to the humanities to solve the big questions? It is such a shared experience and it happened with the cavemen, Plato and it happens with the us in the now.

What if art connects as an offering and the moment the artist (writer, musician, philosopher, yoga instructor, etc...) let's go, it goes into the universal space where we are all existing? Maybe it transcends the object and becomes transcendent? It causes us to emote, react, to think and feel. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes it is dis-jarring, but always when the connection is made, it rearranges something in us.

I think of Matthew Sanford's place on the mat using yoga as his voice and I can only think that his re-connection to Mind and Body is art and it is empowering to me to explore where I am broken. And that is truly a powerful message.

~ b

 

Links for inspiration:

On Being: About >>

Matthew Sanford Interview "The Body's Grace" >>

Matthew Sanford's amazing book: "Waking"

"The Train": A thought-provoking movie on protecting art in the time of war IMDB >>

 

Do we create our own luck when we align with dharma?

 

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Do we create our own luck when we align with dharma?

I will ask up front, is this even a valid question? With that being said, I want to explore this notion. In the last couple of weeks, I have been listening a lot to the On Being radio interviews while doing my artwork. Krista Tippett generally starts her interviews off with discovering a little about the subject's upbringing. For the most part I have started with the musicians and the artists that she interviews. I find music to be an essential component of my life and a necessity to my art.

There is a theme that has come up over and over and it is that of "following your authenticity" or "following your dharma" as well as these people seem to be enormously curious. Someone in these interviewee's life made some level of impression on them that this message stuck. Now comes in the question of luck. Is the luck that they were raised by someone giving them that advice, or met someone important to them or were they open to it when they heard it? Does luck play into anything or is it a case of being open to threads of advice and happen-stance? I find this to be a fascinating question because luck seems so impersonal and these stories are full of personal meaning. For me art is motivated by the personal and it becomes universal when it achieves its own voice. There is a separation of the work of art and the artist once it is released into the world, but when it is being made, it comes from repetition, and doing the work. It is done from love, obsession, compulsion, curiosity, discipline, self-hatred, self-sacrifice, self-love... I could go on with the dichotomies.

The artist or musician, writer or physicist, etc. sits in their studio space creating something. Some work on their vision for years before it is shared and some get recognition. Most do not but that never stops them from continuing, This is where the dharma piece comes in. In the spiritual readings that I have been researching, and also my interpretation of them, it seems that following your path and aligning with dharma is what we are all here to do. In the case of the artist, there is a tangible, musical or theoretical "thing" that comes from this work. At what point is it that the person is strong enough to follow their dharma? When do they here that it is okay to create something regardless of its outcome?

If that person is moved into the limelight that gains an audience, is that luck? Or is it the following and aligning of dharma that becomes so strong and so matched that it moves past its creator and becomes so much more?

Anita Pollitzer wrote back and forth with Georgia O'Keeffe in the early career years when O'Keeffe was teaching in Amarillo, TX. Pollitzer presented O'Keeffe's watercolor sketches to Alfred Stieglitz in NYC many times. There was a point in this exchange of letters where Pollitzer announces to O'Keeffe that her vision had become universal. Stieglitz saw it and started to represent O'Keeffe in his gallery. Her work became universal and it became its own entity.

Luck or dharma? Where is the intersection of personal voice, hard work, luck and dharma? What are the crossroads that we come to that make our paths open to luck?

~ b

Check out On Being with Krista Tippett ... it is a treasure of thought-provoking ideas