Block 157: July 24, 2013

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Wednesday, everyone! We’re in the middle of the week with nowhere to go but onward!

Date: July 24, 2013

Crane: 157

Days Spent on Project: 157

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Erika S.

Erika was the fourth roommate in the apartment that became the central hub of all our social activities during that last year at Kenyon.

She was an art major; for her Senior Exercise in Art, she photographed a series of men (in various forms of undress) in the style of those female pin-ups painted on the front of fighter planes during World War II. It was kinda weirdly subversive and funny and cheeky. I may or may not have been involved, and my logo may have been “The Birthday Boy.”

Balloons and a party hat may have been involved.

I can’t remember.

Erika was always a lot of fun and funny; I liked knowing her and I, like I was with all my Art major friends, was a little jealous that I didn’t take more classes in that department.

She and I are Facebook friends. We also follow each other on Instagram. She and I “like” the pictures we post of our dogs. Our puppies are quite adorable.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve found a playlist of “Essential songs from the 1950’s.”

I’m listening to it for a potential project, to get a sense of what the world would sound like.

With Ricky Nelson, Little Richard, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Boddy Holly, Elvis, Ritchie Valens, this project will at least sound awesome.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I’m currently in previews on a play in New York about a gay couple who is trying to grapple with the opportunity to adopt a child, if they want to, and what it means to their relationship if they can’t agree on wanting to have kids.

One character in the play, pushing for the adoption, says that when you have kids you become a part of something larger: you yourself become immortal.

A part of you will continue to exist beyond your lifespan. You’ve become a tangible ingredient in the whole of humanity.

When we create something, is that what we’re trying to do?

By painting or writing or sculpting or photographing or filming, is it equally about trying to document the human experience AND leaving tangible proof that, YES, I WAS HERE? This is how I felt? This is what I saw? This is what I think?

I existed at this one point. In a hundred years, I myself will be gone but this painting/sculpture/photograph/play/film will still exist beyond me.

When you think about that art has the possibility to become immortal, is it any wonder we beat ourselves over our artistic choices, the details, the form?

The more I listen to Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, the more I’m struck that one of themes running under the piece is the idea of immortality and creation and the way we achieve that immortality THROUGH creation. George paints. His work, lives beyond him in Act 2. While we don’t see the character George in Act 2 (set in the 1980s, the first act takes place in the 1880s), the painting literally hangs over us. His existence and life is present through this creation.

Dot (George’s girlfriend, for lack of a better term) becomes pregnant with George’s child in Act 1. In Act 2, we see her “work of art” in Marie, the child from that pregnancy, who is now almost 100 years old, and George, Marie’s grandson, who is also an artist. (The show *sounds* confusing on paper, I’m sorry; it makes more sense listening to and watching it.)

Dot, has created life that lives beyond her… a piece of her (and 1880s George) lives on in Marie and then 1980s George and so on.

It strikes me how creating art really is a way for humans to leave a concrete notch on the human timeline.

I am here. I was here. I existed. I thought. I felt. I meant something. I had worth.

Not to say it is selfish. Even though a character in Sunday in the Park said, “Work is what you do for others; art is what you do for yourself,” I personally believe that creating art isn’t selfish.

Well, maybe a little selfish. Just a little bit.

I wrote a while ago that I was taught in high school to view each person as a gift, something given to the world for a purpose. It seems to me that we could also be seen as works of art. We are the creations of our parents, however we may feel about that, physically and mentally and emotionally and genetically. We are parts of them: their effort, their life experience, their thoughts, a culmination of who they were and are and will be.

Our children will be the same. A part of me. A part of my parents. A part of my grandparents. And so on and so forth.

Why do we create again?

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