Art and Life. Life and Art.

(originally written on 11.20.12)

On my bus ride from New York to Philadelphia this evening I found my mind trailing towards the ideas behind my work. I am just beginning to be able to articulate and speak about them.  It feels like an artist statement that is taking years to be able to write, but it’s slowing surfacing. 

I am consistently inspired by the people I surround myself with and the stories that present themselves to me through simple conversations and honestly caring about others.  I then use symbols (artifacts, body language, facial expression, light) to articulate these ideas.  Although what I present in my work is always intentional, I attempt to keep these pictures open-ended. I hope I can allow my viewer the space to bring their own experiences and thoughts (personal, historical and instinctual) into the scene I have created.  With this, I aspire to connect my viewer to my subject and because of my connection to those I paint, a connection with me.  I want to show (somehow) that we are all joined together, no matter our age, cultural differences, economic states, or social statuses.
As my bus ride was ending, I turned on some music to clear my head and prepared for an extended weekend back home.  The bus crossed the bridge and my mind left my art practice and focused on other things. 
Upon leaving the bus, I grabbed my bag and headed towards 30th street station.  A woman on the corner asked me where to get the train, I told her and we both headed inside, parting ways.  After a few minutes within the station, I came out the other side to hail a cab.  The same woman I had seen just 5 minutes earlier asked if I was heading towards the airport.  I said I wasn’t and she told me she was just trying to find someone to possibly split some cab fare with.  She explained that with the heightened holiday prices of the bus, her cash was limited to be able to get where she needed to go in a timely manner.  I stated that I was sorry and hoped she found a way.  I seemed to be the only person who would talk to her.  Perhaps it was our previous conversation, but I believe it was something more.

She wasn’t asking for any monetary help but it was clear she needed a way to bring some sort of joy and ease to her night.  Looking slightly alternative myself, I noticed her dreads and relaxed demeaner.  Others around weren’t giving her the time of day and I guessed that was the reason why.  She wasn’t homeless or a beggar.. just unique.  Seeing her, I reflected back on stories my fiancé would tell me about his days on the road as a touring musician.  He hit some hard times, never asking anyone for a single dollar.. but damn, how just one could’ve helped.  His sleeve of tattoos and punk rock attitude would’ve deterred people from caring about his misfortunes and often did. 

I put my bag in the trunk of the cab and reached in my pocket to make sure I had my keys out.  I remembered that I had a $5 bill tucked away for coffee or food that I didn’t use.  Without thinking about it too much, I ran back to her and handed it over.  I told her I hoped it helped some and she immediately turned it down, saying she’d just wait for the train.  I insisted and with a look of shock and awe, she immediately broke into one of the most genuine smiles I’ve seen in quite some time.  She gave me the biggest, warmest hug and we wished each other a very happy holiday as she thanked me again.  
Connecting with a story from someone I care about brought light into a new experience.  Inspired by someone I love, I related to a total stranger. 

They say art imitates life and life imitates art, but why can’t they just be one? The things we, as artists, choose to present to the world should be genuine.  They really shouldn’t stop with paper, canvas, clay or camera.  I truly believe it is all connected and it’s time to start making a change.
Today’s experience reminded me that the path I’ve chosen is not in vain.  It is a representation of who I truly am, both with a brush in my hand and a spare $5 in my pocket.