Art Matters Because It’s Slow

Try to make art and make it quick. Doesn’t work. In fact, it’s frustratingly stubborn because the more we want it to move fast, the more recalcitrant it becomes.(Photo: Justin Pulsifer)
Try to make art and make it quick. Doesn’t work. In fact, it’s frustratingly stubborn because the more we want it to move fast, the more recalcitrant it becomes.(Photo: Justin Pulsifer)

Art Matters because it slows down the mind.

Storm by Laura Gilpin

"Storm at La Bajada," 1946 by Laura Gilpin

We’re busy people. We multitask.  We have to because there are too many things to do and not enough time.  We have devices, to-do lists, long and short term goals and our calendars come with 15-minute appointment slots, which if you ask anyone, is way too much time to spend on one particular subject.

We wonder when the rush will be over. It won’t be. This is the pacing of our choosing, the tempo of our times – a fast run with intermediate sprints.

So, how do we slow down when we don’t know how to slow down?

Make art.

Go ahead – try to make art and make it quick.  Doesn’t work.  In fact, it’s frustratingly stubborn because the more we want it to move fast, the more recalcitrant it becomes.

Making art is a slow process.  Set aside judgments of bad art and good art because either one takes time.

Some art takes longer of course, than others.  Some art takes a lifetime.

Laura Gilpin was a photographer in Santa Fe who died in 1979.

What struck me about Laura Gilpin was the longevity of her career. From 1903 (she was twelve) until her death, she took photographs.

When she was in her 40’s, she routinely bumped into fellow photographer Ansel Adams in the aspen groves in the mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Santa Fe.

When she was 58, she traversed the length of the Rio Grande by horseback (the mountainous head waters) and station-wagon (the Gulf of Mexico) to document the life of the west’s most notable river.

At 83, she became suddenly famous – the same year she won a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Her work was finally in demand.  When an upstart reporter came to interview her she didn’t understand that her life and work might be an inspiration to other women.  And she didn’t know who Gloria Steinem was asking all those pesky questions for an upstart magazine called Ms.

She just wanted to hire a pilot and a plane and take aeral photographs of her beloved Canon de Chelly.

When I’m rushed, when I’m out of breath, I think about Laura saddling up, taking a camera and spending a lifetime creating something beautiful.

Cindy Gaillard
Executive Producer for Arts and Culture

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