When Ellsworth Kelly died in late December, I remember reading responses to tweets announcing his death. Sadly, the trolls were out in full force. They ripped into the late Mr. Kelly—and modern art. But that sort of vitriol usually indicates a lack of understanding.
The reason Mr. Kelly's work (and that of many other modern artists) captivates me is this: it forces me to notice the beauty of what I might normally take for granted. It asks me to slow down and take a mindful approach to what I see. To gaze rather than glance.
In doing so, I often marvel at the perfection of simplicity and the fact that we live in the sort of world where there are more colors than we can count. Doesn't each one deserve to be enshrined on a single canvas?
To me, there's something joyous and creative about asking yourself what a simple abstract composition makes me remember and feel. Looking at Damien Hirst's polka dots, I can instantly recall the unique beauty and pleasure of opening a 64-crayon box of Crayolas for the very first time. (Thank you, Mr. Hirst!) I certainly appreciate the technical skill of artists who replicate real-life scenes, objects or people, but I find it's more difficult to engage my imagination when everything is more spelled out for the viewer.
The work of abstract artists actually requires skillful technique, too, which many of us forget or never realized in the first place. That's why I love the video below. If I haven't given you pause to consider modern art in a different way, this might do the trick.
I love that science can help us understand our world and universe, and I appreciate that scientists endeavor to discover how things work. Their discoveries have obviously helped humanity a great deal, and I applaud them for continuing to dispel the myths that have kept so many people living fearfully rather than freely. Hooray for science (or SCIENCE! to all my trivia friends out there).
Yet the goals of scientists can make me a little sad at times, too. Do I really want to know the formula for everything? Do I want love and beauty to be reduced to equations? Do they become less transcendent that way?
Perhaps if I had the mind of a mathematician rather than a poet, the answers would be yes, yes and no.
And I wonder if science will one day find a way to externally switch my brain from one thinking preference to another.
But should it?
Is that how the dystopia so many authors have warned us of begins—by making everything controllable and orderly?
There's no way I want to return to the days when everything was clouded by dark superstitions. I just want at least a little bit of mystery to always be in the world, filling our hearts with curiosity and wonder. My one hope is that even if scientists one day, thousands of years from now, figure out how everything works, the reason why will always remain out of reach.
I am still looking back at my poetic past to help boost my confidence as I continue to reboot the poet part of myself. In doing so, I was reminded of a project from ten years ago that never quite got of the ground.
I had shared several haiku I had written with a graphic designer, and he was going to create poster designs featuring each one. He never finished. At the time, I was disappointed.
Now I am not.
Now I know that I can design them myself. And I will.
I love how evocative poetry can be as words on a page or screen, but I’ve also been curious about what more succinct poetic forms would look like when paired with visual art.
Before I get around to that though, I thought I’d share some of the haiku that will be part of this project.
He likes to pretend
That the car commercial leaves
Guard him like angels
Just before the end
Our air tastes of razored mint
Violence made sterile
Every blue starched guard
Must wholeheartedly conspire
To share their customs
She was bright knee socks,
marble cake and Scrabble tiles
crooked on the board
Sharp yet buttery
Comfort in a gourmet guise
If she could give you
A star in the galaxy
It would taste like tea
Opinions shared here are my own. They should not be seen as a representation of my employer's views.