My mom drew. I thought when I was young that before I was born my mom must not have existed. Even though I would see pictures or hear stories of a childhood and a past, I discarded these as irrelevant to the person that was “mother”. In my mind, she was only the vessel of the notions that had accumulated in my presence. But in them I saw no pattern.
I remember well one time when my mom had forgotten to arrange a babysitter. So she took me by the hand and told me I would have to come along to wherever she was going. Some time late I remember being sat down behind an easel next to my mom, who with a swift, practiced hand sharpened a piece of lead with her pocket knife. Then she began copying down the curves of a naked statue that posed in the center of the room, around which a circle of other people behind easels seemed to be practicing the same action. I watched silently, as I had been told.
My mom’s hands danced softly over the widths and lengths of the paper, slowly forming something greater than the sum of the lines it made. Out of shadows and highlights grew a torso and limbs, grew volume, appeared an expression and an image. Out of nothing came a tangible illustration; by the simple brush of a hand a new concept and world evolved. The lines themselves were meaningless and a thousand times outweighed by the sublimity of their relationship to each other, which little by little became art on the easel. If the lines had no names until my mother named them, if the picture gained relevance and a face only by her hand, what endless possibility could this practice possibly fall short of? It was new life within a life. The idea, even then, seemed unconquerable. I remember moving closer to my mom, putting my head against her arm, lost entirely in dreams and the conviction that my mother was the greatest artist ever.
From then on life seemed to be, rather than a series of random experiences, a string of consequential events. Most importantly I started drawing between the scattered facts I knew about my mom purposeful, unwavering lines. Soon from out my blurred conception of her grew prominent truths. Suddenly, for a child, life became a thing of intentions and significance.
And as this I know art, although the idea developed once I took up classes at that same studio that my mom once went to, and developed further as I attended an art-oriented Freinet school. Currently I’m studying aesthetics and social studies at a vocational-type school, a combination I’ve learned blends well. Everyday this concept of how lines become art grows further, whether it is something I learn in class or doodling when I’m bored or a new interpretation that is poured into this ever-richer idea that art is the mind-blowing result of simple things.
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