Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heart, Art and Soul

By Joel Ferraris

An equilateral triangle, standing on one of its sides, symbolizes stability where the upper corner serves as the apex that seems to take the role as an overseer to maintain balance between the two lower corners.

For an artist like me, heart (emotions) and art (intellect) are co-equal in the lower plane of life. This balance could only be achieved and maintained by the nourished soul (faith and spirituality) hovering above, for faith, unlike the Sword of Damocles, brings hope and salvation in many forms. A parallelism in marriage makes the covenant with God the Father Almighty the strong link between spouses.

The lower plane elements, when not properly reigned, could destroy one another or forces one to follow the other's demand. To know how to control these forces, there is need to have the wisdom from God the Father Almighty. This is akin to a married couple's tendencies to have frequent frictions leading to conflicts that could end-up in separation once the importance of the presence of God the Father Almighty and His statutes are not recognized.

As an artist I cannot sever the link connecting the two elements of the lower plane on the one end and faith in God the Father Almighty on the other. Faith in the Supreme Being is most important. As I explore the possibilities of this rare talent given by Him, where emotion and intellect are given room for expression but sometimes go out of hand, the Wisdom of God the Father Almighty serves as Guiding Light to remind the artist in me about certain limitations.

Age and experience are vital factors in one's enlightenment. But to top them all the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God the Father Almighty makes things a lot clearer to an artist's mind. More blessed are those who have achieved Wisdom at a very young age and never left it for they have surely left a trail of goodness and obedience to God the Father Almighty for others to emulate. The older ones are likewise blessed, no matter how late it is for them, because they are saved from the ultimate doom.

Alas! There are those who have died or might still die in grief and doom, trying to wrestle for fame and glory but will never find inner peace and contentment despite the promises that sentient foods or false fountains-of-youth seem to offer.

To produce works of art one needs time, ideas (inspiration), a studio or workplace (no matter how small or inadequate) and resources (like my wife's support). Once a single element is lacking it could mean hindrance to production of art and eventually to the success of the artist. Bitterness due to failure to gather all these produces low self-esteem, depression and despair. This could end-up in disaster where one's failure could be blamed on others, as discontentment heightens one's desire to compete more for "scraps of blessings" and continue to wrestle with others especially to demand respect.

To remedy this, one needs to add faith, the most important element of all. Faith gives one a sense of purpose why this talent has to be nurtured. With faith as the source of energy and inspiration, focus in ones career could be achieved with certain clarity, where the moment to pause, to rest or to stop is accepted wholeheartedly. It also saves one from negative impressions hurled by others who see and maliciously perceive any positive move for the common good as another ploy for self-glorification.

A refocusing of one's outlook in art and life and being resourceful and flexible in whatever given resources might still enable an artist to produce, surprisingly, a kind of art that he alone could not have imagined and could still prove a novelty to a world hungry for new ideas.

With faith in God the Father Almighty the artist gains true humility and with humility comes contentment. While others are bloated with pride as they run the race for survival of the fittest, those who are patiently waiting for blessings, wholeheartedly given by God the Father Almighty in His own perfect time, welcomes these gifts no matter how small or big they may be.

What is the role of an artist? What is art for? Is it enough to produce works of art that could inspire others positively, or negatively, while artists themselves die in despair without achieving a level of contentment and spiritual enlightenment? Is it to deliver works of art as demanded by the market and as dictated by commercialism?

When spiritual enlightenment comes first, intellect and emotions are put in check. With these vital elements securely placed where they ought to be, the artist works according to the pace of God the Father Almighty even if the fast-paced world keeps on changing its standards. The dictates of the art market and art galleries that come and go are by no means a hindrance to an artist direction and pursuit for more innovations and possibilities that his/her God-given blessings allow despite claims of some that art is dead.

Exploring new possibilities on how to express into tangible forms one's abstract ideas should inspire the artist to produce more despite the forces of current world trends in art. Art should not also remain just merely as a tool for expressing one's bitterness and inner struggles or to mirror social problems but should instead inspire the artist himself for a more positive outlook in life and to have renewed character and disposition to enable a positive aura to radiate from himself.

Failure to achieve spiritual enlightenment will only perpetuate the usual practice where artists depict squalor, strife and all wickedness in their artworks that could end-up gracing the walls of the wealthy who are themselves callous of the plight of those who are suffering. In turn, these negative energies further sink artists into the quagmire of immorality and decadence, abusing one's freedom and rights in the guise of practicing free will.

In the journey called life it is important for the artist to balance things of priority. Spirituality, family, livelihood, social responsibility are among the top priorities. And to discard unwanted baggage like immorality, decadence, pride and all negative things make the journey a lot easier.

How can an artist continue to be the harbinger of beauty or take the role of a visionary if he continues to live a morally questionable life while spewing invectives at those he has no respect? How can he continue to receive the admiration of people when his very own children and illegitimate children mock him in secret? And how can he gain respect when in fact he vehemently demands one? All these are just a few examples.

Success as an artist, when achieved with all honesty and integrity, is just a bonus to this life on earth. It is not measured by accolades from the "knowledgeable"or by anyone's standard of excellence, for these things are relative and vary through time. While others aspire and fight for fame or aim to be very famous, wanting to be proclaimed a "national artist" or "international artist" I aspire to be accepted in the Kingdom of God the Almighty Father. After all, it is He who is the giver of talents and the source of the Breath of Life.

A person gifted with art should therefore not aim to live a life in pursuit of an elusive dream when that is not his blessing, lest he will just waste the chance to make good and proper use of that Breath of Life in him. He should instead humble Himself to the Supreme Being, the Great Artist of Life, to be able to wait for His blessings to come to him on a silver platter. When this happens sure accolades come from Heaven, where success is not for self-glorification but to glorify the Giver of Gifts once the humble recipient makes good use of these gifts.

Being blessed abundantly with Wisdom, coupled with modest material provisions to live justly, saves the artist from the snares of moral corruption and vanity. And to make use of fame by not abusing it deters another devil's poison-laced and sharp flying arrow called immorality and decadence.

"What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

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