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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cathedral of My Dreams - The Sanctity of the Artists Studio

My studio is a sacred space to me. I expect anyone entering it to treat it with no less dignity than they would treat a church or holy place.

I am as far from a religious person as anyone could possibly get. My view of religion is that its similar to a library with one book in it where you go in read the wisdom in the book and then turn around to find the door to the library locked and barred with a big sign reading YOU MAY NOT LEAVE! You've eliminated all the wisdom this universe holds because you may only read from that one book for the rest of your life.

Therefore to some it seems contrary to my nature that I would treat my studio with the same reverence as a temple.

But like any holy place, my studio is a wellspring of inspiration, enlightenment, new ideas and old wisdom. It is every bit as sacred because it contains it contains the essence of who I am. My spirit resides in every item within it. Not just the art but the paints, the supplies and even the walls. This place is a physical embodiment of who I am.

This is something that I think new artists often don't grasp. A space is just a space at first. Its where you work, but not much else. But as time goes by you place greater amounts of yourself within it and like a cathedral that only has its foundations built, the potential is there for something far greater to exist.

My space is filled with an odd variety of the eclectic. There are candles spread around the room. There are often fresh flowers. There is a beautiful old Buddha sitting near my desk and ALWAYS there is music. Sometimes reverential, sometimes grand, sometimes sad, but always music.

My space is not large. It is a 12' x 12' room with paint speckled floors, a lot of dust and more than a few bugs that come flapping in through the open door at night. Yet strangers have commented that you can feel the energy of the place even from the street. It radiates power. It is holy.

So why should we treat our studio spaces as sacred?

I think it creates a positive atmosphere in which to work. We are truly at the center of our being and we know it when we work within that space. It does not matter if it is a bare room with an easel or a posh New York city loft with floor to ceiling windows and all the best supplies. It is not about what we fill the space with physically, but what we fill it with mentally.

This is something you cannot achieve in an office setting. Sure you have your photo of your cat on your desk and maybe a stuffed bear from your last birthday, but there is no reverence to it. You do not crave to be in your office on the 17th floor of that downtown high-rise.

Some companies such as Apple and Microsoft are learning though that every office needs a reverent place for its employees, so perhaps this is a paradigm which will someday change.

For the artist, the studio is a space where we know absolutely and unequivocally that no idea is too ridiculous. No one is there to judge us except ourselves. Sure once a piece of art leaves that space it is subject to the same rules of ridicule that everything else is. But while it exists here, there are no rules.

This space is sacred and we expect the unwashed masses to treat it that way.

So the next time someone belittles your space you have an obligation to set them straight. They have no right to enter this place of ideas without the proper reverence. And if it goes against your own religion to treat this space as holy, then think of it in terms of the vessel of your gods creation. If your god (or goddess) created you, then everything within that space is an extension of you and part of that godly creation. Treat it like its a part of you.

UPDATE 08-30-16

Its been about a year and a half since I wrote the article above. But something happened recently that I felt it was necessary to add to it. 

Less than a week ago my sacred space was violated by a break in and the theft of some very important items. No they didn't touch the art. Thugs rarely know the true value of things. But they took two of my most important tools I work with, my computer and my camera. 

You'd think I would have been more petrified to lose sculptures valued at thousands, but you know, art can be made again. When your poor struggling artist, the tools of your trade are more priceless than anything else. I truly felt like both of my hands had been chopped off. In fact I had lost about 6 months of digital art which was on the computer. But thankfully most of my work was backed up and they had not bothered to steal the external drives.

Even worse my sacred space had been violated. My carefully placed spiritual walls had been spit upon and defecated upon and it broke my heart. I wept for hours and I sat alone in the space all night, feeling absolutely helpless. 

Its hard for some to understand that I wasn't weeping over the loss of materials, but really I was weeping at the violation. Sadly, no matter how invulnerable we may think we are, there is always a chance of evil slipping in. 

In the days succeeding the break in, we've replaced the materials and I've thought sadly about the missing digital work which I'll never be able to replace. But I've spent most of that time trying reestablish the link between my spirit and this space. 

Its very difficult to put into words how important that is to me and is to any future work I will create within this space. We do not realize how fragile the creative energy that motivates us truly is. It can be shattered by far less if we are not careful. 

It is my hope that the energy that was and still is here might touch the thief in some way. I doubt it will, but you never know about these things. Crazier things have happened.

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