Friday, March 12, 2010

About the Survival of Art and Intellect

I feel sorrow when I read of devastated and looted museums or libraries destroyed by fire or natural disasters. Books and paintings have been burned because they were deemed degenerate. Maybe some weren’t great losses but surely many were. While this is tragic, I believe that people are born every day who can and will produce sculptures, paintings, books, music and all possible art forms every bit as worthy of survival as the revered icons of the past.

The benefit of preserving these works of art lies not in so much in their intrinsic value but in how they connect us to our human history. In high school we learned (or not) about governments rising and falling, battles won or lost, treaties signed, countries partitioned and renamed, and lots and lots of dates to remember. It was a revelation to me when, in my first year in college, we read the ancient Greek plays. There was meaning in these: anger, jealousy, envy, grief, and humor. Way back in ancient times they experienced life as I knew it. Of course battles raged in these stories and governments toppled, but now history was about people.

More than four hundred years B.C. Aristophanes wrote about Lysistrata,  who instigates a peace movement during the time of the Peloponnesian war. Her ploy: “Every wife and mistress is to refuse all sexual favors whatsoever, till the men have come to terms of peace.” The play is still pertinent and funny. The lesson I learned from that play and others of that era was about how little we have changed and about wisdom not being a modern phenomenon. I appreciate that works of art can connect us to ourselves.

The image above is the miniature Agena, acrylic & mixed media collage, 7 x 4", 2005. For information about any of the paintings seen on this site please email Joan.

1 comment:

  1. More of your wonderful insight and wisdom. Keep sharing your beautiful words and self with us all. Rob