Reflections on Art and Life
I am no psychologist, but sometimes I think that our adult years are only meant to be spent resolving our childhood dramas and fulfilling our infantile dreams. Why do I get excited about colorful markers, mechanical pencils, and ink pens? Is it because I am still the two-year-old inside, reaching for my engineer father’s micron pens and being repeatedly forbidden from touching them? Why am I in the least enterprising but most competitive business which is music composition? Is it because I am still the seven-year-old playing a xylophone inside the door of my apartment, hoping that the boys who are chatting in the staircase outside will hear me?
I have numerous memories like these, instances of a young soul reaching out into the world, needing to be heard, to be noticed, to be encouraged. And although those boys did acknowledge my serenades of popular television themes in all chromatic keys (I didn’t know you could play everything in C-Major), and later on, for many years my neighbors did listened to me practice flute (without ever complaining), and even after I got dozens of sets of colorful markers for Christmas, I am still unsatisfied and keep returning to those early awkward memories of want.
In my everyday life I relish in anonymity and privacy, but when it comes to my art, I am a sonic and visual exhibitionist. There lies my bare soul wrapped up in sound and color and I crave the spectacle. I compose to be heard and paint to be seen, to communicate, to give, but also to receive back from the audience, to know that a meaning was forged and exchanged. I can’t comprehend how some artists can create only for themselves, or, as the Polish would say, “for the drawer” (“do szuflady”), for perpetual filing away or obliteration. To be fair, I am storing a few poems that are not fit for public consumption until I am at least eighty or dead, but the general principle remains.
“Why can’t you just compose for yourself?” – ask well meaning friends when I complain about shifting interests of the audience, lack of funding, or a small demand for my works. “Don’t you enjoy the creative process, communing with art, working on your craft?” This is the cruelest question of all. To this I wish I could answer, (though I am too restrained to say it in person, but more liberated in writing), can you masturbate in solitude? Yes, you can, but isn’t it much more meaningful to make love to someone else while giving and receiving affection and passion? Is an architect motivated to invest his or her best ideas into a design of a structure without hopes of it ever being built? Is an artisan baker inspired to invent a new raspberry flavored chocolate mousse without anyone out there to dip their fingers and slurp it?
So yes, I am willing to toil in solitude, to chisel away, to hone my craft, and sit in the same chair day after day, but I have to know that there is someone out there listening and receiving what I have to say. Perhaps this is a manifestation of the Artist Gene, or, if I am mistaken, merely a psychological atavistic knee-jerk reaction to random primordial memories.
©2015 Dosia McKay