Someone smart once told me, 

"Art asks questions.  Ask good ones."

Actually, it was Hannah while we were eating lunch yesterday...she threw that wise gem out over fried chicken tacos and a bowl of melty queso studded with green chiles.  It was a perfect lunch and a perfect conversation.

I thought of it again today while I was eating a much less-perfect lunch alone with the August issue of American Craft magazine. In the "From the Editor" feature, by Monica Moses, I read about a new book called Unintended Consequences by Edward Conard, an uber-wealthy investor who uses the term "art history majors" to slam people he thinks aren't contributing enough to the economy.

Guilty.  I haven't contributed enough to the economy in years, actually -- and I shudder to think what he might say about an English-major-turned-fiber-artist.

But Monica Moses offers a perfect response:

"Yet what endures in a civilization is not its spreadsheets and financial instruments but its plays and sculptures, its sonatas and paintings.  As John F. Kennedy put it, 'Aeschylus and Plato are remembered today long after the triumphs of imperial Athens are gone.  Dante outlived the ambitions of 13th-century Florence.'  What has power in the long run is the creative stuff.  So shouldn't we invest in the art of our own age?  Shouldn't we appreciate the art of the ages?  In their own way, isn't that what the art history majors of the world are doing?

Money is a funny thing.  Central as it is in our culture, it is only a means to an end.  The Edward Conards of this country don't hang financial documents on their walls.  Even they see beauty and meaning elsewhere.  Money is the middleman, and the real value is in experience, feeling, and art."

It seems to me that the reason art endures is that the questions remain largely unanswered. 

Willa Cather said, 

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."

So although I am feeling a great deal of personal uncertainty about what my exact artistic direction should be, I am glad to be reminded that asking the questions remains valid and meaningful -- important even! -- no matter what form they take.

Nice to remember I'm really happy
being exactly what I am.
Whatever that is...artist, writer...
maybe I'll even think about going
back to school for an MFA in art history.


Anonymous said...

so good mom. so so good.

Amelia Poll said...

Loved this.

And, by the way, my mom mentioned that you're going to be in town in the very near future.... We are here and would love to say hello, if you're free at all.

VO said...

Once again, a great post and I wish Edward Conard had a better understanding of that which he slams. Because he's just the tip of the iceberg.

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