Looking Back Part 1: The influence of art

Since starting this blog I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember what started me down this path. What were the first nudges in this direction? I don’t know if I’m ever going to figure out what the first influences were, but I do know that an appreciation of and particpation in the arts played no small role.

I am a big fan of the art of dance, probably because I am an artist and I do figurative pieces, so I am always looking at musculature and the lines of the body. One of the best places to see a variety of dance performances is at the Northwest Folklife Festival, held each year over Memorial Day weekend at Seattle Center. Most years I attend this event, and for a long time my favorite performers were the belly dancers, the flamenco dancers, and the Indian dancers.

I don’t remember how it happened, but at some point around five years ago I saw part of an African drumming and dance performance, and I was hooked. The dancers were athletic, vibrant, alive. Watching them was like participating in a celebration of life. And the drums had a power of their own. It was not difficult to slip into an altered state of consciousness when listening to their insistent rhythms.

Also around five years ago, I started sculpting. My first attempts were somewhat clumsy, and what was meant to be a lovely mermaid morphed into a bug-eyed monster. As my skills improved, however, I started to notice a tendency for all my faces to look African. During one sculpting class project, a figure that was supposed to be a young Euro woman turned out to be African instead. I liked the face so much that I kept her that way. This has happened many times since then, and when sculpting specific characters I often have to change their features from African to something else.

Looked at separately, none of these occurrences seems particularly meaningful. But these small happenings served to subtly turn me in the direction that I am facing now. Sometimes in life it’s not the individual events that are significant. It’s the overall pattern.

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