In the dark amphitheatre of KCAI early in the morning my brain tried to keep up with the large slide images of art made by us humans. The professors voice droned away in the dark. Peppering the air with exclamations and information in centimeters, medium, and tidbits about the personal details of the artist. Art history has largely focused until recently on western and European art world. There are some references to cave paintings and the rare indigenous image of a basket. Art history that requirement of a freshman Art education was a white wash of greatest hits: Titian, Giotto, Raphael, Michelangelo….Monet, Degas, Picasso… etc… This academic survey of art left out most women, continents of people who explored the world they lived in through image, textures, colors, and meaningful objects.
As we are wakening to the diversity of people on this Earth through the internet and recognizing the rich social and cultural traditions of art from all over the world, it seems fitting to also find the common thread that is the unified web that all this art stands on.
All this art starts somewhere. Creativity is uniquely human. Art has always been one of the driving forces behind designs, tech, science… inovation… If we look around our world the application of art is everywhere. The design of your smart phone, the pencil, that label on the bottle, fashion, your car, architecture, and more are the product of artists and creative thinkers. The artist takes an idea and moves it from impulses in the brain to a physical form.
This is a sophisticated and complex process of seeing, responding, discerning, articulating space, object and movement. The method to make this mind/body machinery spit something out is drawing. This is probably one of the most important human capabilities. No other animal or species does it. We humans have been doing it for a very long time. It is evident all over the earth in every kind of medium from pecking out glyphs on stones to the screens of our computers today…. We draw.
My best understanding of when humans started drawing seems to correspond with the growth of the frontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain is the seat of imagination, language, dreams, problem solving, and emotional response. As the science of neurology continues to explore the brain and its functions we are seeing how art, creativity, and problem solving stimulate multiple regions in the brain building neurological pathways and exercises the mind to utilize more of the brain’s ability to sort and function. Because of these relationships to mind, experience, engaging with the world and the body I feel drawing is a superpower.
Drawing can express humor as in cartoons and the details of complex structures such as architecture and engineering. Drawing offers the space for exploring an idea and the means to discover ways for design or to express deeply complicated things and ideas.
We are fascinated by the notebooks of Leonardo Davinci and Michelangelo because they show the artists struggle and process to bring a project to life.
There is also the cave drawing in Lascaux France which tell the stories of an ancient group of humans. The beautiful drawn lines of ocher and charcoal the sensitive handling of line and color to synthesize an animal’s form on to a stone wall.
The giant cliffs of the south west in the United States are home to large figures of importantnce to indigenous peoples that have lived there. Representatives of their spirtual ancestors and cosmic beings.
We can also see the mysterious and the story of cosmology in the carefully place dots and colors of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
These are only a few examples of drawing as it is utilized across the globe.
I have practiced drawing all of my life. It is a necessity in focusing my mind, sorting out ideas, seeing and exploring the world around me. I see it as a practice similar to meditation. Recently, I have been thinking drawing is perhaps a tools that needs to become a method for people to navigate the changes in the world. We don’t see the world or each other… we react. Drawing requires, observation, patience, response… it demands a conversation with the page and the subject.
In general, I feel we have become so distracted from the practical skills we posess as humans. We evolved these methods naturally from our curiousity and willingness to take that curiosity to the next level. The act of drawing is one of the ways that we create(d) the world. It might be the pathway to embrace in order to begin creating the world want as we forge ahead looking for new ideas and concepts.