Ann Lauterbach says that “the crucial job of artists is to find a way to release materials into the animated middle ground between subjects”, in order to better “initiate the difficult but joyful process of human connection”.
To be an artist is to live in liminality. To understand the space between. The space between hope and fear. The space between the already and the not-yet. The space between what has transpired and what is to-come. The space between who we have been and who we could still be.
I make things as a means of exploring the betwixt parts of the world and the equidistant pieces of myself, where seemingly discordant things start to seep into one another.
And, yet there are instances in which I’ve missed the middle way more times than I care to admit.
Last week I posted an excerpt from an article I wrote for The Tattooed Buddha exploring just such a meridian of tension. In the attempt to balance the scales between belonging and being alone, I often err on the side of withdrawal.
I’ve recoiled in response to so much loss that I think I’ve become increasingly uninvested in the awareness of our unavoidable interbeing. In an effort to save myself from the suffering of further loss, safety turned to severance, and almost all my sentences start to center on the word “I”.
Community is a pivotal paradox, especially for an artist. We try to be adjoined in a manner that can also “protect each other’s aloneness”, Parker Palmer says; coming together “in ways that respect the solitude of the soul”.
We relish the quiet seclusion of our inner worlds, but we also require the replenishment of connection in order to see the many splendored beauty of reality all around us. Solitude is necessary in order for us to make work that is significant. But, so is “solidarity”, and we have to do our best to live in the in-between, to muddle through the middle.