The Language of Art

Bull (v.): To push or drive powerfullyFinch (n.): A songbird

I watched the sun’s rays stretch forth through the windows of Bullfinch and illuminate our faces. It was Wednesday, the exact middle of the week, the same amount of time ahead as there was behind. Maybe the reason I thought about the patterns of days came from my dad, who always had every-other-Wednesday off from his bustling days in the hospital and from nights wide-awake on-call. The free hours between my work’s end and his work’s beginning again were ones for simply breathing side by side. At dusk on these Wednesdays, I was the center of the world circling around me.

And now, I sat at one of the creaky Bullfinch desks, inscribed by the hands of generations and generations of people with stories: some were told into the desks and some to the ancient air captured by the loose circle of desks, allowing a flow in and out. Now, in that same air, the unearthing of age-old ideas and the connecting of them to new ones were palpable.

Tonight, instead of simply breathing with a familiar figure around me in a stagnant stay, I was forming my breath. I was defining for myself what it means to be an artist, to be in a community, to be an artist in the community versus an artist for the community. Why do the things that I do, like painting, matter to me? Why do the same actions matter to another community? Are they always the same reasons?

I’ve been creating “art” with my hands since I was young. I consider myself an artist, yet never have I considered my reasons for creating art. The quote from Ms. Zemlin spoke to me. Her words led to me to realize that art is a way for me to find the reason why I am doing carrying out an action. In order to express myself, I need to figure out an idea of what I am trying to express. The production of physical artwork is parallel to the emergence from my mind of the now-defined relationships between myself and the subject.

Much like the meetings ourselves, I see painting and drawing as means for self-reflection. I think Gandhi would have agreed. The idea of swaraj, self-rule, reminds me that power over myself comes from independence, and I believe that art is a way to gain independence. You dip the brush in paint by yourself and you dip the brush in water by yourself, but more importantly, you learn how to make decisions based on your own beliefs about what is important, and in that learn to form your own opinions. At the meeting, students said that math and science were different methods of learning creativity, and I think that they could be right in theory. There are ways of drawing innovation from those subjects directly, but art teaches a mindset apart from skills. It is that mindset of independence for the self and for the community in which Gandhi believed so firmly.

Actually, the way I would enter a community is so similar to how I paint. Brad raised the question— how do we even begin to enter a community? I would dive in first. When I paint, I often jump in without knowing where the piece will take me, solely with a few prior skills on how to accomplish what I am attempting. The richness of the experience can’t be undermined, although of course, having background contributes to the final outcome at the end of the journey.

At the end of the conversation, the circle of desks in that room of Bullfinch also led me to appreciate the power of speaking in unison with the arts. Speaking is another great means for self-reflection, although words are not the only means of defining or containing an idea. The craft of organizing words into an expressive composition should be valued alongside the arts.

Thinking beyond is an art. Expressing is an art. And acting on those expressed thoughts is an art. --Soha