Truly Powerful People (414)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

My studio is in an old Immigration and Naturalization Service building. The building was designed basically as a large detention and government office center. Two floors were built with dormitories for men and women; there was a section with bleak jails cells. The top floor, for reasons I cannot fathom, was the regional assay office. Someone thought it was a good idea to weigh, trade, melt and store gold in the same building where human lives were weighed, traded, and melted. My studio was originally the smelter room where the gold was melted down. Now, in a surprisingly careful transformation, there are nearly 100 artists occupying the space writing a next chapter for the building. The Wing Luke museum is working with the contractors to preserve and honor the first chapter. It is a building of stories, a threshold.

The artists in the building, myself included, are writing a next chapter in our lives. We moved in because we transform things. Clay, salt, sand, found objects, steel, sound, paper, wood, ideas, perspectives, beliefs, images, and stories are daily being reassigned, rearranged, rewritten, rethought, re-purposed and resurrected. As we perform our alchemy within and without, the building slowly sighs and releases its prisoners.

Artists are constantly looking for the way in, for a way to bring their best offer to a culture that doesn’t really know what to do with them. Artist’s change and challenge things. They value what cannot be contained. Artists are lousy at the commodity game. Artist’s trade in expansion of thinking and are disoriented by reduction of life to dollars and cents. Artists are wily and entrepreneurial and do what they do for reasons beyond explanation. The Muses burn hot even if we’ve forgotten their names.

In the lobby of the building someone taped to the wall a movie poster. I appreciate it every time I pass through the lobby because I know it is an accidental commentary and beautifully appropriate to the circumstance. The image is of a man in a toga carrying a sword sprinting to the end of a pier; the poster is dominated by a quote from Joseph Campbell: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

2 Responses

  1. Love this… 🙂

  2. What a beautiful example of transformation. The physical space hasn’t changed but the heart of it has. What a gold mine! Reminds me of the Thoreau quote: To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

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