Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inventing a language

In June, about a week after dropping what seemed like a zillion boxes into our much-longed for place in the country, my son came creaking down our wooden stairs, big yellow-papered drawing (covered in blue and magenta embellished amoeba-like ?, little x's or crosses--some filled in and some left open, tornado-ey swirls abounding) in hand.

My husband and I, both abstract painters with four art degrees between us, were floored. Our three year old, ostensibly upstairs taking a nap, had spent his time making the most specific, most focused, most intentional drawing I'd ever seen him make (let alone myself and most of the other drawings I'd happened to see of late), AND it seemed to drop into his head and onto the paper before us with no precedence. (Make a brilliant, idiosyncratic, highly pointed and formally thoughtful drawing today? No problem, just leave a pile of old paper and some crayola markers scattered about will you?)

Before you stop reading this post (because let's face it, is this just another mom waxing eloquent about her 3 year old artistic prodigy?) let me get to my point. I'm not talking about my son because I want you all to tell me how remarkable his drawing is, or isn't for that matter. I post this image and relay June's encounter because what strikes me most about his drawing IS that Alexander made his own language. Maybe this is something all kids do, but the fact is, it sure isn't something most adults do. And given MY dedication to helping many, many people sort out WHAT their idiosyncratic visual language is whilst cultivating my own--despite all our blasted hang-ups, preconceptions, fears, prejudices, educational training/biases, ego-driven confusions, spiritual wranglings, etc.--well, Alexander's ease in making was/is merely/hugely this lovely gift of grace, the promise of what might be, what we all have, what we've never seen but know, and yes, thank you, thank you for it in whatever form it comes.

Thank you too to:

Thomas Noskowski

John Dilg

Tomma Abts

Hamlett Dobbins

Erica Svec

Amy Sillman

Rose Wylie

Hilma af Klimt

Rebecca Morris


garima said...

(you know i love this entry. i think he is a genius.)
a new language--for everyone? we've talked about this before. and i am still for new languages. a detour however--the current economic 'happening' does odd things to me. i feel it is powerful/good in a way. not that individuals should loose what they had, no. but that it has the potential to suggest the idea of economy of things and people will agree to that life change. in other words conservation and simplicity might be embraced (oh! the utopian me).
new languages--let's say they take up conceptual space. is that something we will need to worry about in the future--conceptual space?
but i am thinking of this the wrong way--new languages mean new ways of seeing, which means empathy and tolerance. they also mean diversity, i.e. being engaged with life without exploiting any one particular resource.

Barbara CT said...

Garima I do hear what you are saying about the current state of things--in my own head I am breathing a bit easier which is weird to even say, and I say this I realize from a very privileged place of yes, maybe having to "tighten my belt" so to speak, but I do not know what it really means to go without the barest of necessities...but maybe, just maybe our country can largely and collectively push down some of our massive engagement with acquiring and being psychically defined by what we buy...I too am an optimist!

And new languages...well, for me I do ascribe this to the fundamentals of being human I realize, our capacity to invent and create--but I need to pinpoint why I think this...hmm, thanks for all your thoughts.