Monday, October 24, 2011

The calmness of art

Float (version 3) by Jennifer Holt

"Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos.  A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm... an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction."
-Saul Bellow (1915 - 2005)

 This past week has been hectic for everyone I know.  In my world, October is so busy for everyone on-campus, what with mid-terms, Homecoming, the peak of the performance season...And people are also busy with Halloween, and a general energy of activity.  It's during these times that I find myself close to getting sick, because I'm lighting the candle at both ends.  There's not much stillness, and much chaos.

  But no matter how busy I am, I always find the time to go to NAU Art Museum openings.  The NAU Art Museum focuses on challenging work by modern and contemporary artists, and they usually have 4-6 exhibitions yearly.  This year they have had a challenging time letting people know they are open throughout Historic Quad construction on-campus.

  I went to their 2011 National Juried Ceramics Exhibition opening on Thursday.  The exhibition was a great collection of functional/utilitarian work (i.e. teapots) and sculptural ceramic work made in a variety methods.  There was the exhibition winner, "Float (version 3)" by Jennifer Holt, made of slip cast porcelain.  They really looked like white paper bags, and when you looked inside, they were holding water with little origami paper boats (also made out of ceramic) floating on top.  It was absolutely charming.  

  Some of the pieces were from NAU ceramic students, including two wood-fired pieces by Blake McCord.  A very interesting piece by Eric Belz, "Bound," was made out of ceramic, glazes, slips, rubber, cords, and copper wire.  Yes, some of the pieces were disturbing (avoid the bunnies) but most of it was texturally interesting and visually compelling.  I just let my eyes rest.    

"Bound" by Eric Belz is on display at the NAU Art Museum.
  I could go on and on about the show (there were over 40 pieces) but you should just check it out for yourself.  The show is open until Nov. 23.

  It's really important for everyone to grab little snatches of time to relax.  Looking at art makes me do that--I find that there is no pressure to "understand" anything, follow the witty dialogue or keep track of the score.  With art, you can just "be," and "achieve stillness in the midst of chaos." In the midst of the distraction of our busy lives, achieving a sense of calm is so critical!

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