I’ve always thought of art as a powerful means of awakening a sense of wonder in our otherwise dull lives. Art as something that grounds us in instinctive knowledge, but that can elevate our thoughts and souls. Art has the capacity to change not only the viewer and appreciator of art, but the artists themselves. This quote from the book Native Science beautifully explains this:
“The ceremony of art touches the deepest realms of the psyche and the sacred dimension of the artistic creative process. The sacred level of art not only transforms something into art, but also transforms the artist at the very core of his or her being. This way of doing and relating to art makes the process and context of art-making infinitely more important than the product.” (Gregory Cajete)
Lately, I have been making a good effort to increase more time in my weekly schedule for artistic processes. The more I immerse myself in these artistic processes, the more I question why exactly I am captivated by it. I have no plans to become a famous painter, calligrapher, writer, or video producer… then why do I keep painting, learning calligraphy, keep up creative writing, and create videos?
Increasingly, I’m seeing art as more than something that ends up looking nice and to be admired. I’m experiencing things in a new light. My personal experience is not necessarily giving me an insight that is different or exclusive from the above views… but rather one that acts as an additional layer to it.
Art is an escape; an escape that depends on us moving nowhere.
What kind of escape? It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of a long active day of work and meetings. It’s an escape from the chaos that our uncertain thoughts cause within us. It’s an escape from our unrelenting running footsteps that we focus on more intensely than reminding ourselves to take magical depths of deep breaths.
Art is an escape from everything, by forcing you to to stay put. Art tells you, Nothing in this world matters right now, except that your painting strokes on this canvas are precise. Art tells you, Nothing matters except that your poem has a rhythm when you read it out loud. Art tells you, Yeah, you might feel like a mess, but all that really matters is that your calligraphic letters are curved just right with your ink-dipped bamboo pen.
Creating art puts you in the present moment without a sound, and you find yourself self-reflecting a great deal.
You realise that even in your hustle and bustle of a schedule, you can still extract moments of serenity and quiet. Creating art slows down our jumbled, loud thoughts until we accept that it’s okay to not have all the answers at the same time. Creating art settles your feet so that they can stop leaping over hurdles and give you a chance to take ocean-deep breaths.
So don’t for a moment think that creating art is a waste of time. Art is one of the few streams of sanity in an insane world. A timeless Lil’wat principle of teaching & learning I think applies so well to my own art process:
“Kat’il’a — finding stillness and quietness amidst our busyness and the need to know.”
Create the kind of art that brings you joy and peace. It is an escape to a better you. Art is an escaping adventure that brings you home to Him… if you allow it to.
And Allah (God) knows Best.