Art & Sorrow


This will be a quick little post, but, I'll be honest, I kind of puttered around the house for the last hour to mull it over and put off writing it. If you've read any previous posts, you may have noticed the general theme in every subject is joy and a little whimsy, with an observation about how art and creativity enrich our lives in cool ways. This post is totally about how art and creativity enrich our lives in cool ways, but there's some sorrow threaded into it this time.

So almost three weeks ago, I posted this painting progress shot on my Facebook page:

I was messing around with modeling paste for some experimental fun and thought it might do well with a white rose motif. If you know me and my work, I never paint roses. It's just not my thing. No biggie.

I was halfway through this piece when I got a call that a very dear aunt had passed away suddenly.

Disclaimer: I am part of an exceptionally enormous and close family (think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," but with a bunch of Irish people). This event sent an emotional wave each one of us felt separately and together.

That was on a Sunday. The following week is truly a flurry in my memory, punctuated with the conflicting happiness of seeing so many loved ones that traveled here from around the country, and grief for the reason. We were all so busy getting ready for the funeral and being sad that I had ZERO desire to do anything creative. Art was literally the last thing I wanted to consider. Like, I didn't even think about it, which is crazy, because it's such a fixture in my life that I kind of constantly obsess over.

That little half-finished painting sat abandoned on my easel for a few days, until one day I was alone and completely sick of not feeling like doing anything. I needed to just have a purpose to channel my sadness into. So I (somewhat half-heartedly) finished it.

My cousin saw it and, long story short, it was displayed at the calling and funeral because, as serendipity would have it, "white rose" was the theme (remember how I NEVER paint roses?). Now it's a monument to a colorful, energetic, and unconditionally loving mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt that I didn't even know I was making.

My least favorite question I heard in school was "How do we define art?" It inevitably became a debate about what art is, how it's actually undefinable (ingenious answer from those artsy know-it-alls *laughs uncomfortably*), why someone thinks abstract art is NOT art, etc... As I've experimented with my creative side throughout my life, I'm discovering the question actually should be "How does art define us?" Art has proven time and time again to me to be its own thing, separate from our formulae and stoic theory, that reaches out to us in unexpected, sometimes blunt, sometimes subtle ways. And it is beautiful.