[box] I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. -Henry David Thoreau[/box]

I feel somewhat obligated by need, desire, or just an old fashion urge to follow up on my previous post. I would encourage if you have not yet read it to please do so here: What Photography Has Taught Me.

Yesterday while listening to one of the many podcasts I subscribe to I heard it said; “If you have not experienced pain you can not create art.” At first that struck me as odd and noninclusive. Noninclusive in the sense that, what if you have lived a very troubled free life? Does that preclude you from being able to make art? Almost as soon as I thought of it that way I realized, we all are human and that alone means we have experienced pain in one form or another. I would venture to say we all have experienced pain many times in our lives. I am not talking about physical pain or bodily injuries but, the pain that comes with living. Grief, Disappointments, loneliness, heartache.

With this being the case it can only be surmised we all have the ability to create art. I want to be careful here and not slip into the debate of “what is art” it is well enough that we accept art as the base premise according to standard definition, that is; “Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities.” I can accept that. Why is it then some create art as we know it and others do not? We all have the base tool set. After that, the road seems to fragment. Not everyone wishes to create art and may very well receive some of the same benefits as the creator simply from enjoying and experiencing art.

When reaching down into the meaning of the phrase; “If you have not experienced pain you can not create art” I come to a conclusion. Art becomes an expression of ones pain, an outlet. My conclusion must also state, art becomes an expression of ones joy. A seemingly oxymoron. We all deal with pain in as many ways as there are people. Are the joys not that much more due to the experience of pain? Indeed, could there even be joy without pain?

Art seems to be a galaxy within a universe in which some choose to visit. We try, possibly unknowingly, to understand ourselves through various means. If these means begin to work we hang around. If they work well we expand our experiences within that galaxy. If they begin to heal us we may choose to make it our home. This can only be done through the conscious endeavor or each person. Some may choose to reject the endeavor completely. While others begin to enrich their lives through it. Art has unique characteristics. It can be stagnant and uninspiring or it may be meaningful in emotional and physiological ways. Another form of art that comes to mind is music, the audible form of art. If I were to guess I would think humans first experience with art of any kind was through the audible form. Even more specifically through the sounds of nature.

The ancient humans who first transcended caves as homes left on their walls drawings of nature in many forms. Their world as they knew it. Their experiences as painful as they may have been in return produced works of art. One does not have to except these things as art nor does one have to except music, painting, or photography as art. That does not mean it is not art. Only that it has not yet brought out that which is the experience of living.

Reflective Solitude

© Brad Mangas