Sunday, May 20, 2007

Art or Craft?

What defines art? Is it something beautiful made by hand? Or is it more than that?

I tend to think of art as a form of authentic self-expression. Anything less than that is a craft.

Taking oil to canvas and copying a photo is a skill that I don't have. Much as I admire this skill, this is a craft. Creating the scene from "nothing" is art.

Art doesn't come from nothing. I saw a quote on a furniture store: "we are the sum total of what we have seen." I think we are the sum total of what we hold important. Translating what we hold dear into our lives is an act of art. Copying what we see into another form without passing through our heart is craft...

By this definition our lives can be works of art: live from your heart, express meaning in your life, live as yourself and not as a carbon copy of what you see. This is the only freedom that has meaning. And it is the only freedom that cannot be taken from you.

Our minds seek to understand, and in doing so, we name things: this is a safe person to be with, this is a trusted health practitioner, this is acceptable behavior for this person. If we limit our behavior to what is acceptable to others we get trapped into a box too small for our soul to live. So I am an acupuncturist, taichi teacher... one who must be responsible in my professional life. But I am also a person, a child in an adult body, an adult in a young body, a girl living on her own for the first time in her life. I am full of exploration, play, safe risks...

I invited some of my patients to come to my student improv night, our end-of-semester show to culminate my first semester learning the fun and art of improv comedy. No one showed up... that's not a problem for me... but one patient said to me, "I just couldn't come. I can't see you as my trusted healing professional cutting up on stage."

His loss, I say. I had a blast that night!

No comments: