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(detail) Richard Kooyman oil on canvas

 

 

 

“We are no longer all in the same story and we are rapidly losing the will to imagine it.” David Levi Strauss

It is March 2016 and the country is wrapped in the politics of a presidential election.  We all seem to be searching for what is the truth or who is telling the truth, and yet it seems everyday we get farther away from it.

I forgot who it was that said “once upon a time the world was more nomadic, art was small”.  The country seems very big right now.

The actress Helen Hayes was said to travel with a small painting by Watteau so she could always have something beautiful to look at. There seems to be some type of truth in that.  The Greeks placed reason and science over experience in terms of truth. But then again they thought of Art as something different than we do today.  Anyone can have an experience, their own opinion, their own idea who they want to be president, or their own definition of what art is. That doesn’t make it true.

The art writer and visual historian James Elkins said “eyesight is not a rational activity.”  85% of our visual information comes from our brain. If that’s true then people spend most of their time  just making stuff up in their heads, thinking it is real. Maybe artists are just able to go with the flow easier.

“The Idea is, in short, Art and a work of Art. As a work of Art it directly liberates subsequent actions and makes it more fruitful in a creation of more meanings and more perceptions”,wrote John Dewey.  He believed that “Imagination is the only gateway through which these meanings can find their way into a present interaction…..the conscious adjustment of the new and the old is imagination.”

That is what we need during this election; the ability to consciously adjust the new and the old.  Either that or we need to get better at making it all up.

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