Monday, January 25, 2010

Humility by art

Well, of course that title could indicate one of two directions – “humility” as defined by me (Art) or humility through art, which is the subject here. I’m not sure someone short of Mother Teresa could, with ego, apply lack of vanity and self-importance.

I am retired, but once upon a time the workplace requirement for humility, often desirable in keeping a low-enough profile to be left alone and really do the job, was also a necessity when the raises were handed out by the pooh-bahs, the grand one or the lessers. That situation required a bit of bowed head, some minor groveling and the comment “Gee, thanks, boss. I’ll do even better for the company now.” Even if you were muttering under your breath and then threw a fit in your assigned cubicle, humble you were for the long minute.

Humility is also practiced in marriage, especially if  peace be kept and if longevity is the goal. And there is always the nagging feeling  (not the spouse nagging you) that she’s right. You can’t say that readily, of course, so a humble walk-through saves the day.

I’m not retired from marriage, so though the workplace no longer requires the drill, I am cognizant of what’s what in marriage, at least most of the time.

The humility venue of which I write today is somewhere else, in a new world for me, the art universe actually. I have known preteniousness there over the decades, taking photographs for the newspaper I long toiled for. But those were in-and out assignments, and I did not linger, nor did I take time to see beyond, to what is humility among artists. Now, I am occasionally hanging on the wall at a show or gallery – a photograph or two or a “painting” – and I am humbled.

In retirement, we don’t have to prove as much anymore – for the company’s well-being and growth, for self-satisfaction, for the raise, for promotions. Post-work focuses on keeping to good health in self and family -- physically, mentally, financially. And hopefully on giving more in volunteering ways than the working days allowed.

But, art, a world I have been gifted to enter, even though it’s much like being a freshman, is extra fun, and I hope that makes me humble. In art, there is so much of life and death and hope and despair and the future and the unexplained  that its expression can never be limited, for to do so would be to forever reinterpret what was, what is and also to limit growth.

In artistic expression, you see the gifts of the individual in comparison to your own. That is naturally humbling. But also  hopeful since in the journey called art, you don’t remain in one spot. The life there evolves.

I know egoism as well as great, great doubt are the twin maladies of art, but they are also the creators. I would add humility to the palette, its own color.

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