Monday, February 11, 2019

Writer's block

It's weird, and hopefully a phase, but certainly weird, that I feel like I have less to write about now that I'm taking this class. It's supposed to be inspiring and sometimes it is, but sometimes it's intimidating instead.

I'm already about a month into the course and I still don't know what I want to write. The trick, I suppose, is to keep doing it anyway.

I've been thinking lately about how my opinions of things have changed over the years. For example, when I was younger I enjoyed art, but was only ever really impressed when an artist could capture a realistic representation of their subject—when I didn't have to wonder what the artist was going for or whether the artist was in their right mind while creating their masterpiece.

Realism and impressionism—Monet and Manet—were both very comforting to me, depicting the world as it appeared, how it should be. People are people, chairs are chairs, everything is lovely and dependable and predictable. This was beauty. This was art. Clearly these artists had studied the world around them with a discerning eye to be able to so accurately transcribe life's details on canvas.

Van Gogh began interjecting his emotions onto the canvas, muddying the subject matter, which my younger self callously noted lessened the quality of his work. When I was first introduced to Picasso I remember being floored that he was even considered famous. His art was abominable.

(I should probably let the record show that these were my thoughts as an elementary school student).

The more mature me has grown to love the vibrant colours and whimsical interpretations of the world the post-impressionism movement offers (who doesn't like Starry Night?). I've even grown a soft spot for cubism.

(I should probably let the record show that these are my thoughts as someone who knows very little about art or art history).

I've come to believe that while realistic art shows the world as it should be, more interpretive art shows the world as it is.

Allow me to explain this in the lens of church art. For as long as I can remember, The Book of Mormon has included artwork by (among other artists) Arnold Friberg. The paintings are beautiful and I have nothing against them really. In fact, I spent a lot of time pouring over them as a child, wondering if that's really what it was like. It looked so real!

But, of course, that wasn't really what it was like. That's only how it appeared to Arnold Friberg in his imagination. His imaginings of the scenes are lovely, but I worry that they have had too profound an effect on how others imagine the scenes, having become almost iconic in our church culture.

His art almost dictates to his audience's imagination.

While I once would never have considered hanging a picture on my home that might cause someone to ask what exactly it was, at this point in my life I might be more prone to hang a picture by Jorge Cocco Santángelo in my home than one by Arnold Friberg (not that I could afford artwork by either).

When we took the kids up to the church history museum this past summer there was an exhibit of Jorge Cocco Santángelo's sacrocubism works and I was almost blown away by two simultaneous thoughts: (A) this is cubism and (B) I actually like it.

I was free to project a portion of my understanding, my imagination, my testimony, my feelings, my experience onto his paintings. I wasn't immediately blinded by the artist's interpretation of a story or culture (or, at any rate, it was easier to disregard such things because his paintings are much more open to interpretation).

At any rate, it's taught me that I shouldn't disregard any movement or genre simply because I haven't liked it in the past because I am changing all the time and art is changing all the time and life is surprising. So I'm going to just keep writing whatever comes out—writing not as I should, but as I am. Poetry, pointillism, prose, post-modernism, fiction, fauvism, non-fiction, neoclassicism. Whatever form art takes it helps us see the world a little more clearly.


  1. I hope you will write your hilarious story idea you mentioned a few posts back...

  2. Those are really nice. I'm definitely more of a fan of that then Picasso. It always felt to me like Picasso hated people. I do love me some Van Gough though.