Fall 2012 Last night I found myself at a sports event for the second time in my life. I am admittedly sports illiterate, so I wasn't always following what happened. But I assumed that it was plausible to say we had made a goal or a good block when the crowd of “cheerleaders” (a.k.a the cough.super.cough.hot.cough. BYU-H men's soccer team) looked close to shouting their heads off, and doing very un-manly things like hugging each other. So there I was spending my Friday night sitting with a whole row of bleachers to myself. (Date night, what's that?) Spastically attempting to capture with my camera lens the raw human emotions elicited from the arc of one rubber ball. Trying to ignore the fact that suspicious smacking noises kept emanating from the direction of the couple seated a few feet away. Maybe it was a bit of a lonely way to spend Friday night, but we all find joy in our lives through different means. Some of us find it through physical activity, competition and team-work. Some of us find it through social interaction. Okay, well maybe this one is true for everybody but some of us are just better at being socially interactive. Then some of us see the pain, joy, and beauty in the world around us and desire to capture it so that it becomes a common language; a form of communication that speaks to all of us no matter our back-grounds and interests. That is the life of an artist. Being an artist you often find yourself figuratively or literally sitting alone on the bleachers, but when you commit yourself to your discipline you find a love that will never leave you and a silent voice louder than any other.
The concept of beauty, or aesthetic appeal is one that philosophers and artist have struggled to define and value throughout the ages. In my opinion much of the schema that one uses to define beauty is culturally built but there are consistent quantifiable qualities that span across cultures and millenias to define an artwork as beautiful. These qualities can be defined by the formal elements of an artwork. Quantifiable elements such as line, color, and shape that are combined into formats and patterns that seem to have a universally pleasing effect on human beings. Many of these formulaic relationships that seem to create beauty can be found in the human body. Relationships between the average proportions of various body parts, as well as the line and rhythm of those parts came be distilled into mathematical equations that can create beauty. But as an artist can I simply create beauty by replicating formulaic recipes for fractal like proportion relationships? Is it even necessary for me to try to create something beautiful? Or is an art work simply impactful and valid because I created it? I believe that beauty is an essential part of an artwork and that the creation of it is hard earned skill. I do not believe however that this means that all of the pieces that make up the whole of an artwork needs to be aesthetically pleasing, or positively emotionally fulfilling on their own. Some of the most impactful pieces of artwork that I have experienced are a tremulous balance between the dark, upsetting, saddening, and even disturbing aspects of mortality and the healing eternal power that beauty seems to hold. When these aspects of sublime and grotesque are properly balanced they give an additional dimension to the visibly quantifiable beautiful attributes of an artwork. They capture not only physical beauty but philosophical, ideological, and spiritual beauty as well. The capture the beauty of ideas, experiences, and emotions. To me that is what being an artist means. It means the having the desire and skill to create objects and experiences that distill the beautiful complex intangibles of the shared human experience that is life into well crafted symbols and representations that appeal aesthetically, emotionally, and spiritually to their intended audience. In considering this tailoring towards a specific audience though the artist must accept that some of the deeper beauty may be lost to those who are not of that demographic. As mere mortals we can not create anything that has a universal appeal, but I do believe that we can draw ever closer to the divine as we discover and strive to draw the attention of others to that which is universally beautiful. No painting, sculpture, or photograph can full capture the beauty of God’s most complex and independent creation; humanity. Art work that is visually beautiful can draw our attention to stop and ponder the beauty, meaning, and importance of all that is seemingly invisible, intangible, and immortal. Could one define one’s self as an artist simply because one creates? I think yes. Just as the adversary defines himself as a god because he holds power. But why be the kind of artist that creates chaos, doubt, fear, unrest, and discomfort when you have the potential to create what all humans long for, peace, love, unity, understanding, and beauty? Though your artwork may never be the canvas that captures eternal beauty in all its glory it can the mirror that reflects it for the viewer to see in their own lives.
August 22, 2016 Though I may not have received much formal training in art until I started college, I was very blessed to be raised in a very creative environment. Coming up with new and unique solutions to the daily challenges of family life was all I ever knew. Watching my father spend many late nights buried in pens, ink, and tracing paper taught me to pursue my ideas and passions relentlessly. All through highschool though I struggled to decide what my passions where. I enjoyed many things ranging from conchology, to swimming, to astronomy, to classical piano, to woodworking, to fashion design, but I never felt like I discovered something that I was wholeheartedly passionate about. Then I began taking art classes in college and I fell in love. I had always been crafty and very handy at personalizing everything I owned from my clothes to my school binders so I was very familiar with the feeling of creating something new and beautiful from common objects but to watch something grow under my fingers from the ground up was a thrill like I had never felt before. I am not sure words can adequately describe how it feels to create, but I knew that I felt that I was fulfilling my divine identity and purpose in a way I never had before. I knew that almost every waking moment, and many sleeping ones were filled with visions of potential projects, and my mind was constantly chipping away at challenges I was facing with current ones. Though there are times when the fires of my creativity burn low I can always recognize when through my efforts or the circumstances of my life they are stoked to a flame again because I feel an almost relentless desire to actualize my ideas. It is as if a fifth sense is awakened and enhungered. A sense that combines all the other senses and emotions and seeks to condense them into one medium that can communicate to all who come into contact with it. It is this desire to capture the human experience and express the commonalities we all share that drives me to continue to stoke this flame. A flame that sometimes burns me, a flame that often draws the strength out of my body to feed my soul. There is this intrinsic desire to connect that is common to all mankind. This connection often comes when we recognize the ways that we are the same and celebrate the ways that we are unique. Oftentimes though, individuals struggle to see the common thread, or value their uncommon ones, but art can often shine the light that provides clarity for many. By presenting complex emotions, life experiences, and ideas in simple visual representations, a visual artist has the power to quickly create unity and understanding in a way that words never can. Though my skills may not yet be developed to a point where I can always execute pieces that efficiently express the ideas that I want them to, I have touched the surface of that kind of skill and I know that it is within my reach if I am willing to continue to sacrifice for it. This is where faith has played an essential role in my creative process. With the exception of sculpture which was like breathing for me, many mediums and concepts have been very challenging for me to grasp at first. Which has often left me questioning if I am really meant to be an artist. But as I have learned to stop comparing myself to others on a daily basis and instead compare my own progress on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. As I have done this I have seen the Miracles the Lord has worked with my once very limited abilities and I have developed the faith to trust in His abilities to continue to help me develop. Most importantly as I have made my relationship with Him an integral part of my creative process I have come to know Him in a way I don’t think I could have otherwise. I have especially come to understand how he sees me. One of the reasons that I have a passion for portraiture is because I often feel that I can begin to see the individual through God’s eyes rather than mine as I attempt to capture more than just their mortal frame in my depiction of them. God is the ultimate source of creativity and I am grateful and humbled daily by the realization that I have been given the ability and opportunity to exercise a small piece of His power to create.