Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."
I've always loved this quote but never took the time to find out who said it. Asking google reveals some controversy - some sources suggest Banksy, the London-based street artist, is the source of these words while others suggest Cesar A. Cruz, a Mexican poet, is the original source for these words. Beyond these two men, there is also evidence that the phrase may actually be a variation on the saying "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable", attributed to Finley Peter Dunne, a 19th century humorist and newspaper columnist. His words are often claimed to be a commentary on the role of the ministry and God but is actually Dunne's view on the role of the newspaper...
Regardless, this quote moves me. When I am uncomfortable, disturbed, afflicted, I am most productive. Being creative comes easily to me when times are tough. Making art is cathartic, it is a release, a calming influence on me during tough times. I find that viewing art during these times is also a great comfort. When life is smooth, easy, comfortable, I don't feel the same urge to make art. I don't feel as inspired and I am never as productive.
My most recent subject, the dead rabbit, has definitely brought this quote to the forefront of my mind. Viewer reaction ranges from great appreciation to serious disturbance. I find myself calmed more by the painting of, and viewing of, the dead rabbit pieces than by any of the previous subjects. I felt driven during the ceramic/glass pieces, on a mission to figure something out, whereas with the dead rabbit, I feel like I understand the subject and what I need to do and how I need to do it is very clear. The ceramic/glass objects felt foreign while the dead rabbit feels connected.
To those of you who are comforted or intrigued or appreciative of the dead rabbit images, I'm glad that you are enjoying the work. I think you get it - and for that, I am grateful.
To those of you who are disturbed by the dead rabbit images, I'm sorry my work is challenging your comfort. I don't think you get it. I know that when I feel challenged I try to figure out why and overcome that challenge - not move away from the challenge in fear.
I'm not trying to tell you what to do or how you should react to my work, I'm just some artist who likes dead things. What do I know about life?
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a great deal of time in the painting studio working with traditional oils. Teaching middle school art for the past 12 years has taken me away from those roots. This "one a day" project is aimed at re-inspiring that creativity and technique.
Other "one a day" painting blogs to check out:
Kellie Marian Hill
The usual Subjects