Art & Image
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Thematic Essay | Creation of Art

Art and the Present Moment

By Gaileen Therry
April 9, 2010
The patterns of nature were encoded into a complex arrangement of colors, textures, and motifs, which became the fabric of human spirit. 
Mother and Child
Mother and Child -Pablo Picasso (1922)

“To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all.” --Picasso

Before the ancestors were completely human they were completely natural, which, among other things, meant they lived life to the fullest, imitating nature in their art, language, and music.

The origins of consciousness and its corollary –the complex, individual creation of art –were based on the interplay of humankind’s common relationships in nature. The primal family learned to describe thought patterns by teaching themselves to understand causality: thoughts originated in the perception of pattern; and perceptions were shaped by the art (language, poetry, music) they used to describe them.

The essential quality of ancient thought reflected this reciprocal affiliation, and the consciousness that developed associated the pattern of an object –its color, texture, refraction, translucency, hardness, and so forth –with a sense of its artistic power.

As they probed the use of objects in animistic ritual –shell, bone, ivory, stone, plumage –the ancestors discovered meanings that encompassed multiple levels of awareness. In circles, spirals, stratifications, hatch marks, the patterns of objects were part of an artistic pattern that made sense of the world.

In the shadows of leaves, in the movement of sunlight and water, in the carefully balanced orchestration between visual pattern and abstract image, the ability to recognize patterns gave the primeval family a way to regard nature as a living artistic structure, a storehouse of ideas and recollections.

As human consciousness evolved, technologies developed to include the accumulated experience and knowledge of thousands of years –bead art, stone knapping, tool making, rock painting, stone etching, fiber spinning, pottery, and textile art. The patterns of nature were encoded into a complex arrangement of colors, textures, and motifs, which became the fabric of human spirit.

Picasso said “there is no past or future in art”: the existential element of art is more than a brief visual and illusive image; it carries within it the distinct traces of primeval thought. The fantastical animals, intriguing faces, and intricate geometric patterns he painted, embodied the artistic human journey.

Ancient art was the vibrant interchange between nature and consciousness –the essence of a life lived to the fullest –and an unmistakable pattern that made sense of the world. Its collective memory is essential to being completely natural. It is a recurring, enduring point of reference for being in the present.

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