Art Matters Because It’s Messy

A messy heap of arts and crafts for a kids class at OSU Urban Arts Space.(Photo: ArtZine)
A messy heap of arts and crafts for a kids class at OSU Urban Arts Space.(Photo: ArtZine)

Art Matters because it’s messy.

I remember finger painting in kindergarten.  My favorite part was getting to wear one of my dad’s shirts and mushing that paint between my fingers.  I could make any image on that page that my hands could imagine.  I could bend the paint to my will.

What it is about being messy that is so fun?

It’s giving oneself permission to play, to free associate our internal life in symbols and structure.  And here’s a thought: It’s a pleasing balance between destruction and construction.

Very rarely are we given the opportunity to destroy something in a positive manner.  Think about it, even in finger painting we’re effectively destroying the paper, the paint, even our clothes.  It feels mischievous.  It feels good.

Carl Jung, the great psychologist, said that one must destroy delusions, bad habits (or behaviors), even, the idea of autonomy in order to reconstruct a healthy sense of self.  Both processes are at work in the evolution of the mind and if one destroys without the intention of creating something new out of the rubble, then destruction is self indulgent, chaotic, willful, even, evil.

But if we accept that destruction can be a necessary process in the act of construction in order to evolve, then destruction is absolutely, positively necessary.

Have I arrived a little late in the postmodernism discussion?  Maybe. But I’m not talking about an art movement. I’m talking about a day-to-day experience that is transformative and, shall I say it, primal? I’m talking about the process, not the result.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of even the word destruction, I think of the self-indulgence that Jung talks about and I shy away from the whole thing. I rarely think of it as a positive process. And in our electronic world these days we do not destroy anything, we delete it.  Bits and bytes are typically not visible.

Not sure what it all means. All I know is that I’ve not gotten messy for a while.  And for my action this week I’m going to fix that even if it feels uncomfortable, rusty and awkward.  Don’t know what, don’t know how, but I’m going to get my hands dirty.

Cindy Gaillard
ArtZine Executive Producer

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