Usually near Thanksgiving, this column focuses on a family-oriented artist whose works inspire the love of tradition and family. This year, instead, the space is devoted to supporting the fine arts for both healthy minds and bodies.
Over the years Thanksgiving was a time to travel; a time to climb mountains and walk trails. It was a time to visit family down the road or across the country. But other times it was a day for stopping, getting very quiet and painting what was before my eyes as the scene opened up at that special moment.
One year, it was a trip to a river between Middle Georgia mountains and a cold dip in the white-water rushing south. Another time it was to The High Museum in Atlanta, where one of my mentors had artwork on display. Both places, nature and the museum, gave far more than it cost in time or money. Thanksgiving was a time for peace and a chance to explore those inner-most feelings of losses and gains over the year. The last trip to the High was pretty mind-boggling. The words of another are needed to describe it.
“We believe that the arts have the power to transform lives – we’ve seen it firsthand thousands of times. The arts expand our horizons, create empathy, and teach us how to dream. They provide a voice to the human experience. Above all, the arts connect us to one another.” It’s hard to top that.
The arts give us moments to ponder our own thoughts and put them into some medium, a concrete form, so we can see what we were thinking about. Whether it’s drawing, painting, manipulating clay into a sculpture or welding a piece of metal onto a form we envisioned, we get lost during that time in what we’re doing. I’ve seen it in students trying to capture that shadow under an arm as a model sits quietly waiting to hear her break time called. It reminds me of the power of public art that brings back memories … even some traumatic ones, such as Fargo’s newest, “Spirit of the Sandbaggers,” a 2021 collaboration between its designer Karen Bakke and welder-fabricator Brock Davis,
The Lions Club wanted to forever hold close the collaboration of Fargo and surrounding areas as volunteers packed sandbags and laid those bags against the Red River in 1997. Jamestown College students were an integral part of the mix those days, driving over to help stop the flooding that eventually hit Grand Forks broadside. Their faces are not recognizable because Bakke used models to represent the volunteers from 25 years ago. They seem to stand against a setting sun, silhouetting the pending dangers with a blockade of living force.
It doesn’t matter if a work is realistic or abstract. It matters that something has captured that busy brain, slowed it down and given you a reason to calm the heartbeat as an idea manifests itself before your eyes to capture the idea. Artworks don’t have to be viewed by others to make them important.
It can be a power saw and wood, a wheel and clay, a Sharpie and a paper napkin. Any time you can stop and slow the mind in order to allow it to wander into that dreamland of imagination, you are healing and staying well. What’s great about that concrete form is you can be worried one day, record it somehow and put it away to think about it another day when you have a clearer mind. In classes, I always told students to “make it, put a lid on it, and worry about it later. But for now, clear your head and get to work.”
As Thanksgiving bows to the Christmas season, remember to share gifts of creativity ... and start with yourself. You will be a happier person and always be able to carry the secret of your own success at that special moment of personal achievement.
If anyone has an item for this column, please send it to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.