Art and Life: A Blog

Reframing Our Lives

Nestled in Easthampton Massachusetts, is a delightful find called the Park Hill Orchards, Outdoor Sculpture Park. People of all ages can come to pick fruit in the fall, eat warm apple pie dolloped with ice cream, and watch the beautiful horizons of the Pioneer Valley while interacting with outdoor sculptures. This red frame is one of the most fun sculptures, inviting a lot of creativity. I suspect a time-lapsed movie, showing all the ways that people play with the frame, could, in itself, be an enjoyable piece of art.
I am not always jumping for joy. Having said this, it has been interesting to me to notice that the figures that I draw and the photographs I like to take are pretty uniformly about joy and delight in life. But I, along with the rest of the planet’s population, have felt the stresses of normal life, with complex political struggles, climate change and a world pandemic layered on top. But, at the end of a workday, I often turn to the drawing board and tune it out, connect with form, color, texture and pattern.
My mother has a belief: It is important to dance between the raindrops.  And I think it is very wise counsel. So many of us imagine that the ultimate moment has to do with winning the prize, earning the accolades, and finally catching the brass ring as one circles on the merry-go-round.

However, when people win Nobel prizes, they still have to make breakfast the next morning. When one lands one’s dream job, there are still tasks one would rather not do. One graduates and, if one listens very carefully, one might notice a quiet longing for the the adrenaline-fueled rush that was part of the act of reaching for an important goal. When an ouvre of artwork is complete, there are the questions of framing, storage, how to pass on the gems to others and how to nurture fallow earth “inside” from which to grow new artistic expression.  Joy may not be the goal strived for, but, rather the experience of the striving, the making, the figuring out and piecing together of beauty.
Being able to create art during the pandemic has meant a lot to me. Through drawing, I’ve been able to escape the world of words, the complexities of interpersonal cruelty displayed in real life and on social media, narrow my focus away from so many of the worlds’ troubles and contemplate the arched back, the lilt of a toe poised to leap, and a hand whose fingers are unfurling like a fern leaf.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be good citizens and do our part, on a regular basis, to fight the good battles that need daily effort. It does mean that we should also cherish, appreciate and put into perspective the opportunity and privilege one might have to make art when possible. It may be important to see this endeavor as being so important to the life force that one can see it as part of any larger work one might engage in –making art is nurturing, life-force generating, and helps us connect with core. I will say I am grateful to have the capacity to dance between the raindrops. I am grateful for the capacity to look at and see beauty and playfulness everywhere. In order to engage with core struggles of our day, we may need to plug into beauty, let go and play, rearrange patterns and step out of our more public frame.
Everyone has their own way of coping with adversity. Whether it’s playing in a jazz band, hanging out with friends, swimming in a lake or challenging the snow, we have our ways of claiming our moments between the raindrops. I hope we can all find our personal ways to reframe our outlook from time to time, whether through the red frame at the Park Hill Orchards or whatever actions float one on a sea of greater tranquility, whatever brings you connection with others and the larger forces of nature. That which, amidst a rain shower or a sunny day, brings you joy.