An Artist's Calling
I recently spent a few days traveling through a few national parks. It's a hobby of mine and a way to reconnect with the world that is greater than myself. While walking through museums and discovering all about this monument, it's history, it's story, and it purpose, I was struck by something. Art is a calling....and our lives, our country, and our identity as individuals and as a nation cannot live without the art that we make.
Without going into great detail, Mount Rushmore is a piece of art and this artwork carved into the side of a mountain is a way of preserving the legacy of America for future generations. Each Presidential carving is incomplete. Did you know that? Why--I'll tell you why. The project ran out of money. The original artist died before it was completed. His son took over and completed the work as best he could with the funds he had, but even in the early 1900's artists were fighting to be heard, appreciated, and validated. Each evening there is a ceremony culminating in the lighting of the monument and lowering of the flag while honoring all branches of service men and women in so doing. I was honored to bear witness.
I read a letter in the museum that the original artist wrote requesting donations to complete the project to a wealth widow of a congressman that stated (and I paraphrase) "No one in their right mind would come to view a carving on the side of a mountain." He respectfully thanked her for her consideration of the donation and said (again I paraphrase) "I learned a long time ago not to argue with a lady."
But I digress, back to the art: Each character depicted was meant to be carved to the waist. There was also petition to add Susan B Anthony to the rock, but the vote to add her could not make it's way through congress. Sound familiar? There was also a hall of heroes honoring a multitude of great Americans that was intended to be an ongoing part of the monument. This artist was making a place for other artists to add to his humble beginnings. He was creating a way to honor all those before and after him, including African Americans, Native Americans, women, men, and so many more. I was so moved by so much of what I experienced on this trip.
So for you, dear reader, the lesson is GO MAKE ART!! Make bad art. Make good art. Make art that you think is selfish. Make art that doesn't make sense to you. Make art that you can't describe. Make are that is just pretty. Make art because you never know what may come out of you, and make art because you don't have anything better to do. Someone almost 100 years ago thought a monument honoring 4 Americans who individually and collectively created, expanded, preserved, and equalized the United States as a nation, are now depicted on the side of a mountain to be seen and experience for generations to come...all because someone believed and inspired those around him!!
There should be more faces on this rock; if there were money to support arts; if more people saw the value of preserving our natural resources; if more people looked in the face of others with a desire to seek understanding than place judgement; if more people cared about making a better future for others than simply maintaining a singular life. We are all connected, and therefore, I will make art. I will make bad art. I will make good art. I will make art that doesn't make sense. I will make art that inspires, and I will make art that I hope reminds us all of our connected souls. I will continue to make art regardless of the outcome or the income. I hope you will join me on this quest. #kickballchangetheworld