*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
What do we carry forward? My family lived in New Jersey near Manhattan until I was ten, and although I have enjoyed spending my adult life as a photographer in the American West, when we left New Jersey for Wisconsin in 1947 I was homesick.
The only palliative I recall, beyond my parents’ sympathy was the accidental discovery in a magazine of pictures by a person of whom I had never heard but of scenes I recognized. The artist was Edward Hopper and one of the pictures was of a woman sitting in a sunny window in Brooklyn, a scene like that in the apartment of a woman who had cared for my sister and me. Other views resembled those I recalled from the train to Hoboken. There was also a picture inside a second-floor restaurant, one strikingly like the restaurant where my mother and I occasionally had lunch in New York.
The pictures were a comfort but of course none could permanently transport me home. In the months that followed, however, they began to give me something lasting, a realization of the poignancy of light. With it, all pictures were interesting.
Robert Adams in Art Can Help
A: Unfortunately, I have not been able to reconstruct my family tree further back than two generations. So as far as I can tell, I am the first artist of any sort, whether musician, actor, dancer, writer, etc. in my family.
Both sets of grandparents emigrated to the United States from Europe. On my mother’s side my Polish grandparents died by the time my mother was 16, years before I was born.
My paternal grandparents both lived into their 90s. My father’s mother spoke Czech, but since I did not, it was difficult to communicate. I never heard any stories about the family she left behind. My grandfather spoke English, but I don’t remember him ever talking about his childhood or telling stories about his former life. My most vivid memories of my grandfather are seeing him in the living room watching Westerns on an old-fashioned television.
Sometimes I am envious of artists who had parents, siblings, or extended family who were artists. How I would have loved to grow up with a family member who was an artist and a role model!
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Artists, when they are absorbed in their work, are also deeply connected to other human beings. The theologian Matthew Fox said, “The journey the artist makes in turning inward to listen and to trust his or her images is a communal journey.” The psychologist Otto Rank argued that, “The collective unconscious, not rugged individuality, gives birth to creativity.”
To be sure, artists are not making real contact with real human beings as they work in the studio, but they are making contact in the realm of the spirit. The absence of the pressures real people bring to bear on them allows them, in solitude, to love humankind. Whereas in their day job they may hate their boss and at Thanksgiving they must deal with their alcoholic parents, in the studio their best impulses and most noble sentiments are free to emerge.
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts
Comments are welcome!