Today, I learned a lot about myself by catching a glimpse into the the soul of others. I visited an art installation in St Louis in an apartment. The artists were a man and woman who dedicate their lives to artistic expression. So much, in fact, that their home is a work of art.
Everything in their apartment is reclaimed, found or recycled. Their environment is completely made up of things saved from St. Louis streets, alleys, shops and even the Mississippi River.
Crazy? It was quite the opposite. In fact, it was the sanest, cleanest, most tasteful, historic and personal art display I've seen. Walls covered in vintage maps, hat pins from the 1904 worlds fair revovered from the river banks, beautifully reclaimed alley-way furniture, and one of the most welcoming conversation rooms I've ever been in.
And they live there - for another two weeks, anyway. Before they move on, visitors get see love notes, meet their cats, hear about the artistic process, and think about the stories behind each fragment and relic in their collection. All in their bedroom, kitchen, and basement.
The hosts are the real experience. They are quite eccentric, yet are kind and welcoming. Tour guides ranged from bohemian to retro to your everyday run of the mill folks. The artist, Brian, was unapologetically dressed like a swami, even though he appears to be a blonde, nordic dude. Kristin never identified herself - I guess, choosing to blend in. The lot of them were welcoming and shared the meticulously arranged home/collection as though each visitor was their newest roommate.
It was a brilliant experience. You learned personal stories and felt a great reverence for their love story. It was an in-their-own-time museum that honored their lives, loves and passions. The tour culminated with our group sitting on the floor in the "story room" - and it lived up to its name. Strangers shared a little of their lives and discussed the experience for a good 20 minutes. After the tour and chat, visitors were trusted in the space and invited to stay and look around - almost as if we were a part of the exhibit. They were all great people!
And, that is the post-experience "ah-ha" moment... I may have walked right by these kind and talented people and never looked any deeper because they are younger and very different from me. By stepping into their apartment gallery and admiring their work and collections, then getting drawn into the personal story, i was allowed to see their beauty before I met them.
There you have it. I mean, how often do we dismiss others without seeing their beauty simply because of their appearance, race, sexual orientation, religion, accent and so on...
Art allows us a peek into what is most unique and beautiful about other humans without the distraction of personal appearance, style, idiosyncrasies, and other stuff. When we create art... put it out into the world... then get out of its way.... we can affect many people. But when we allow others to see who we really are, we can reach those who otherwise wouldn't have been affected.
Art circumvents our humanity. It short circuits our judgement and teaches us that everyone - no matter how "human" has the potential for greatness and divine inspiration. If we could just look beyond the surface in every situation, we would see what makes us all worthy.
A while back on this blog, I talked about accepting myself as an artist because I am compelled to be creative in everything I do. But, today I got a glimpse of what has instilled doubt about my own status as an artist, and made me doubt my own worth. I couldn't get past my own humanity to let my work stand on its own.
Today, I am more an artist than ever because I finally understand that my creativity and who I am are one in the same. My creative works are not simply an extension of my humanity, but are the purest expression of the soul. Get to know my art and you see a piece of my soul. Get to know me and you'll know that my art IS my soul. Everything else is a very human distraction.