Monday, October 19, 2015

Tree of Life

Hi Everyone!

I've been thinking deeply about my career. Again.

Ever since I was 18 years old and choosing a college, and effectively, a path that would lead to a career in art, I have turned this question over and over in my mind: "How can art help people?" I know intellectually that art can change the course of history. But I still sometimes struggle with the fact that my skill set as an adult professional, is to paint pretty pictures. It's sometimes hard to see the impact.

My last mural project (this one) helped a couple celebrate and mark a major life event - their move to Portland. The mural wrote their story in a horizontal timeline of pictures, without words.

My recently finished project (below), helped mark a friend's rite of passage as he converts to Judaism. He asked me to combine a few elements: a Tree of Life (important symbol in Judaism), images from the story of Jonah in the Torah, and the hebrew for his chosen name. The "how" to combine all of that, was left up to me. "Surprise me" he said. When he received the painting, he said: "I am blown away. Can't even express how much it means to me. It now has a very special place in the entryway to my home. Thank you thank you thank you!"

My current work in progress, is a pirate's lair on the wall of a teenage boy's bedroom. The mom who hired me emailed me the night after my first day of painting (believe me, the mural was less than impressive looking that day) to say: "Just wanted to say thank you, again, for the great start! Really amazing to see an idea/dream being realized."

These most recent three projects and my client's responses to them, have caused me to ponder my question again: "How can art help people?" I think the clearest answer within the scope of my own mural-ing, is that I am here to be a translator for people. I can see this concept so clearly as an image in my head. My clients are pouring a jar of their dreams, stories, pasts, and wishes into my head. They filter, as words, through my own brain and heart, and come out my hands in the form of pictures. The end result is their vision coming alive as actual physical images that are marked permanently (sorta) in their homes, workplaces, neighborhoods. For the purpose of bringing their families a tiny bit of joy. That's it. That's my purpose in my mural career. To be a translator and a helper for someone to get something they can physically see, from something they couldn't before.

When I'm having feelings of self-doubt, and like my work is not "important", that is the image I will conjure up in my mind from now on, to quiet those thoughts. It's a small thing. But it's good.

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