All Around Us

Art surrounds us, providing an impetus to maintain our struggles to understand who and what we are. Art is embedded in everything we see and feel and taste and smell and hear. Even in the rare absence of deliberate art, we are immersed in its natural expressions. Trees and beaches and rocky ledges. Sunrises and sunsets. Dark, menacing oceans—at once comforting and compelling while just as ominous and foreboding—that stretch far beyond what the eye can see. We adorn our walls with art. But we sometimes fail to realize that art is in plain sight in the design of kitchen cabinets and in the trim around doors. And in molding, where walls intersect with floors. Lawn sculptures adorn large, empty stretches of grass…adjacent to landscape timbers and elaborate designs crafted from colored pebbles. And near bushes shaped and trimmed to look “just so.” Chairs and sofas and tables and lamps represent the expression of utilitarian art. Automobiles may once have been primarily modes of transportation, but today they are mobile collections of art and design.

This morning, I spent a few minutes marveling at the expansive artwork of Andres Amador, whose enormous, expansive earthscape designs on sandy beaches inspire awe. His art is breathtaking in its beauty and stunning in its brevity; he must complete his art on a tight timeline during low tide and then watch it disappear when water overtakes the sand. Yesterday, I viewed two photos of the side of a big, unimpressive building several stories tall. One photo showed it plain and unadorned. The other showed it after an artist transformed it into a stunning piece of art—a three-dimensional image of a kitten emerging from a cardboard box. Art, no matter its form, can be uncomfortable; it can make us think thoughts we would rather not confront.

Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.

~ Gwendolyn Brooks ~

Beauty is not confined to the strictly visual, as I’ve already suggested. Chefs create art both visually appealing and a delight to the nose and the tongue. Musicians create aural art pleasing to hear and, frequently, that is accompanied by vibrations pleasing to one’s nerve endings…perhaps it’s one’s sense of touch? Photographers both preserve and create art with cameras; they present images exactly as captured by the lens and as manipulated by the photographer’s use of imagination and technology. Writers create and share insights and emotions and concepts through their use of language; they “get inside our heads,” where they “paint” images and ideas.

Our lives would be more fulfilling and more peaceful if humankind would cultivate recognition and appreciation of art in all its forms instead of seeking to control an uncontrollable world. The pursuit of power is an affront to artistry; art is an homage to universal freedom.

A line is a dot that went for a walk.

~ Paul Klee ~


Sometimes I feel like having long, in-depth conversations on topics that, in my opinion, too few others find interesting. Like the importance of art and how it shapes our culture and our sense of what is and is not moral. I recall initiating a brief conversation in which I asserted the importance of art. The response was, essentially, “so what?” And that was followed by “talking about it has no value…our conversation will not change what anyone things about art.”  I remember thinking how the person with whom I was speaking must have been absent when even shreds of creativity and intellectual curiosity were distributed. That, though, is deeply judgmental. Though, in my opinion, deeply true.

The only justice is to follow the sincere intuition of the soul, angry or gentle. Anger is just, and pity is just, but judgement is never just.

~ D. H. Lawrence ~


No matter what D.H. Lawrence thought about judgement, I judge myself all the time. I recognize many of my innumerable faults (though probably not all of them) and realize my positive attributes can never equal them in number, nor overwhelm them in impact. I pass judgement on myself more quickly and easily than I do on others. Why? Because I know myself far better than I know others. That having been said, I know myself only superficially. There’s someone inside me I have never met and probably never will. Several someones, I suspect. Not literally, of course, but figuratively; we are far too complex to really understand ourselves. Our wiring is too labyrinthine to ever hope to fully grasp how it works. Or doesn’t. Anyone who claims to know themselves completely is delusional. Faced with circumstances we have never before faced can change our understanding of how we might react in such situations; thus changing what we understand about ourselves.


And we’re off to happily engage with another Friday.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.