Exalting Our Spirits

“I choose that my art be engaged in that which exalts the spirit of man.”
Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still is one of my favorite artists and his work, inspiration.  There is a quote that describes Still on a mural in Denver.  It states:  "The canvas was his ally.  The paint and trowel were his weapons.  And the art world was his enemy."  Pretty powerful words for describing an artist but his work truly is powerful.  The boldness with which he painted has always struck me.  His mark making alone shows his confidence and his authority.  If ever you are in Denver, visiting the Clyfford Still Museum is a must.  

Clyfford Still
PH-1187, 1956

The museum is one of my favorite places here in Denver.  I can breathe there and just be.  I'm always ready to create after visiting his work.  Having such a wealth of inspiration so close is wonderful.  For me, Still is successful, his work does exalt the spirit of man; his work is life, energy, and speaks from and to the spirit.  The pictures alone do not do his work justice.  The scale of some of the pieces engulfs the viewer.  You feel one with the work, not just viewing it but a part of it.  The experience is very moving and intimate.  The color and textures bring such a vitality to his paintings and as the viewer, the color takes over.  It is exhilarating! 

Connecting with a work of art can be a very personal experience.  It breathes into the viewer something that wasn't present before; it brings a new awareness (to quote an artist friend - Gary Bibb).  Art reaches out and can grab you, engage you, or it can bring a subtle shifting in your soul.  This is important - needed and necessary.  Art is the record of our existence here on this earth.  It shows us who has come before us and it tells us of who is currently here.  Art engages.  Art speaks.  

So, I'll be thinking of Still and his boldness, asking that I can translate that into my work as well.  I, as an artist, desire to connect, engage, and exalt our spirits.  I desire for my work to live on after I'm gone to speak to my children and others.  I want it to portray the human condition with all its beauty and rawness of emotions.  I want it to speak.  I want it to speak the truth of what it means to be human.  And if successful, can engage, speak to our spirits, and ultimately exalt us.  


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