Art and the lifting of the spirits

Aug 12 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I lived in Australia for two years. I managed a sabbatical and a fellowship to be there. It was transformative for me in many ways. I was mourning a failed relationship that I had thought would be forever. I was stymied in my work, and felt like I was walking through mental sludge to do science. I felt I had no friends and had romanticized how marvelous grad school/postdoc had been (which in retrospect seems off-base). I went  to there, and did field work and made friends and became whole.

One of the things I did when I was first there was buy a piece of art. I had fallen in love with Aboriginal art. A colleague had a wife who was an artist and a docent at the Museum of Art. They took time to show me things and explain. They introduced me to an art dealer/gallery that was committed to supporting the artists. The woman who runs it is amazing and wonderful and we became friends. So, I spent real money and  bought something by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri  similar to the image on the left.





Since then I've returned to Australia many times. Each time I've tried to buy a piece of art that speaks to me. I have a picture from Emily Kame Kngwarreye.  She didn't start painting until she was nearly 80. That looks something like this one. Except of course, none of these really carry the emotion of what the real picture looks like.  I have bought a few sculptures and other pieces. The red picture is by Shane Pickett. I have a blue one he did.



I cannot begin to describe the how and why this work makes me happy.

So I read this post this morning on enjoying art. The sculptures in this piece did not speak to me. But that's ok, with me and with the author. Some of the quotes from it are wonderful and convey the author's view far better than I can paraphrase:

Let it move you and give you something to reflect on.  Purchase only the art that you will look forward to seeing every morning when you open your eyes or when you return home after a long day at work.


... [spend] less time worrying about how much you know about art and more time finding art that makes you happy.

and finally:

Don’t settle for art that doesn’t lift your soul.

The same, by the way, could be said of the science you do.

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