Tuesday, February 03, 2009
A couple of years ago I was driving home from teaching at a school in a small rural district and when I finally made it to the main highway I found myself stopped a light opposite a graveled vacant lot. The first thing I noticed was the old pickup parked there and then the old man in the folding chair sitting beside it. And then I saw the animals - deer, bear, cougars, rabbits and coyotes all carved out of wood and arranged neatly across the barren lot.
Carvings - 10$ a hand-lettered sign read.
I watched as the cars and trucks roared by the man and his art. All those people were in their own steel encased worlds, listening to the radio, talking on their cell phones, thinking about grocery lists or soccer practice - thinking about anything but the time the old man put into those carvings and the fact he was attempting to communicate his art to the world. And when my light turned green, I drove past too.
As artists and writers we're in the same boat as that man and his carvings. We're just trying to communicate. But most of the time - we fail. I went home that day and did the drawing at the top of this post. The coyote was inspired by the old man's carvings. The rest is the void - the space between people and objects and intents and desires. On rare occasions we do bridge those gaps. I'll get a nice email from someone who enjoys my art or found something meaningful to them in one of my books. That's when this whole art/writing craziness makes some sense.
But most of the time I'm that old man sitting on my folding chair in that vacant lot, watching the world go by - wishing someone would stop.
Posted by Nancy Coffelt at 5:52 PM