Written By Melissa LaFontaine
“Art is my cosmos”
I make art to make the invisible, visible and to rebel against the status quo of the material realm, stagnant, decaying, almost inevitably predictable beast that it is.
There has always been a deep well of loneliness in me. I have had too many near death experiences to exist as a drone, sleepwalking through my movements. Not that I haven’t tried. Risk and reward are calculated differently now though, and others seem to sense this. The extent of emotional valence is broader, more encompassing, more easily accessed in unlimited quantities.
To feel is to know you are alive. To notice things, proof that you can feel. I have always had a knack, a preference, for noticing things that others don’t. It has always felt slightly wasteful to pay my attention where others are already paying theirs. My feelings are finely tuned and take copious amounts of intoxicants to suppress (which have almost never been worth it). In order for both the things I notice and my own inner truth to be validated, I create out of that space that most people cannot bear to feel and so offer a taste, a communion or medicine from it. An offering that allows the unseen, the unsaid and the unmet, to be met.
Nothing is ever quite good enough and simultaneously it is all too exquisite to bear, this is the dichotomous pendulum from which I swing. Perfection is the elusive substance we sense, we experience, we create yet never hold. We seem to mourn this loss continuously, without acknowledgment, as a species. I think this is what sets us apart. It is most certainly what makes creating art necessary.
An awareness of this loss, all of the suffering that contributes to it, and the perpetual dissociation it causes can be bridged into something meaningful with only slight effort, it tends to ask only for acknowledgement. That has been my struggle as an artist and as a person. There has been a lifelong quest to take whatever tools are available and use them to throw ideas and impressions against the walls of humanity’s psyche. To correct errors, to make better. I am tenacious in my desire to expose imagination as the key to eternity. As I mature as a person and my skill grows as an artist, the tools improve, the delivery becomes more refined, but the impetus remains the same.
There is something else happening here, it is not always the case that 2+2=4. There is also ambience and mood and method. I feel an unrelenting drive to urge the sentient nature of reality closer into a tantric experience of life that never settles for safe or good enough or neutral unless they are solely in response to the grotesque or repulsive and therefore, necessary. To be an artist is to live like a mystic and commit to never letting emotion die into oblivion.
Because artistry has been so intertwined with spirituality in my personal cosmos, I’ve always had the hardest time with the intersection between capitalism and artmaking. The products of expressionistic creativity seem like entities that transcend valuation. I wish artists could exist in the netherspace of magic where all our needs are met so giving could occur without need to compromise for sake of reward, (which isn’t ever really reward but scraps meant to forego the decaying of time). This makes the whole rest of life very difficult.
Life becomes art and art becomes breath. It becomes dance. It becomes temptation. How far can you push the envelope where the edges of possibility enfold us before a new center erupts right under your feet and you never find your way back to the other you, to the linear thinkers of your yesterday? Not as far as you’d think, but that’s the game an artist, a good artist, plays with the Universe on everyone else’s behalf.
I feel a lonely ache, an intelligence and potential within me that never seems able to gain agreement for It’s existence. It has never been capable of an esteemed position of silent witnessing while the body goes about some ordinary life. New frontiers must constantly be created, explored and exhausted. I’ve lived the life of a wanderer, a monk, an anthropologist.
From where there is a felt lack of love and validation, I find myself compelled to create, to rail against the ignorance that would seek to nullify or erase me, my center, my perspective. I’ve taken all of the prophesies and religious dogma, both spiritual and intellectual and thrown them into a pot which I stir and stir, sip and stir. I meditate, I contemplate, I question. Sometimes I scoop up a ladle of the thoughts that waft up from this brew and spread it across a canvas to record a new interpretation.
I find a great release that is too often met with frustration. Frustration that the audience is too busy to see, the nuance is buried too deeply to be useful, or because it is met with indifference due to it being only relevant fifty years in the past or fifty years in the future. That frustration compels a new endeavor, a new work, a refining of the message. Stir, stir, sip, marinate, begin again.
Being an artist is like being a psychedelic plant in human form. Sometimes we get outlawed and people have no idea why we’ve been labeled dangerous. They avoid us as they avoid themselves. But if they gain enough courage and attention to relate, they’ll find that missing number that rewrites all their equations. When you get to do that, you get to feel human for a bit. A real live, loved and honored part of the human family.
Everything we see has been created. The degree to which we enjoy it is directly related to the seeming care with which it has been assembled, whether by water, wind, plant or animal. In my most frenzied artistic states, I create art that marks time, that portrays the truth behind whatever illusions are being exported the loudest in culture. Art isn’t just my cosmos, it’s everyone’s cosmos, only some people don’t realize it yet. Half the fun in making art is showing people that. The other half is the moment you see them remember some private thought, they believed was theirs alone, recognizably expressed in your work. This undeniable proof of inner connectedness passes their brow, if only momentarily and a grander world feels just a little more tangible in its wake.
Melissa studied Studio Art and Psychology at the University of Minnesota. She creates artistic pieces that add visual narration to her written word. She uses a blog format to publish insightful reflections, poetry and essays about life, spirituality and trauma recovery. She is also the proud homeschool mom to a budding Rockstar and has dreams of one day owning an artist’s retreat and wellness center.
Copyright© Melissa LaFontaine
About ‘In The Mind Of An Artist’
‘In The Mind Of An Artist’ aims to uncover the artistic mind, the perspective of individuals living under the influence of art. By and large we live collective lives, but artists see life a bit; well sometimes very different than others. As some seem to float from one artwork to another; others are deeply encrusted in their work making it difficult to catch that ride offered by the world around them, creating realities in which one person (the artist) must navigate in order to survive in society. If you are an artist and this speaks to you, please contact me if you like to share your story.
This series of articles, written by artists is about the artist’s way of processing and reacting to events in their lives. These can be tangible communal events or struggles of philosophical and psychological nature.
Through these articles artists will share their intimate views. Talking about how their perspectives changed as they trapped themselves in the cobwebs of art.
By design ‘In The Mind Of An Artist’ will not contain any images of artwork, biography, profile, lists of exhibitions, books or the artist’s creative process.
The goal here is to give the artist a chance to pause from the creation of art for a moment and explore the self.
Interviews will also be included in this series.
To submit your article, get an invitation to participate or for more information on this new series please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN!
Edge of Humanity Magazine is an independent nondiscriminatory platform that has no religious, political, financial, or social affiliations.
We are committed to publishing the human condition, the raw diverse global entanglement, with total impartiality.
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