Art is: Art adds richness, beauty to everyday life

Published 10:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

Art is by Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of The Albert Lea Art Center, 226 W. Clark St. in Albert Lea.

It’s that time of the year again — time for all Albert Lea Art Center members to showcase the creativity they have found in the past year. I say found because sometimes that is just what happens.

Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter

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I believe creativity comes from within. Yes, most of us take classes to understand the use of materials or various painting techniques, yet the individuality of our art can only come from finding our own style.

I love watching a group of soon-to-be artists experiment with various materials. If you ask 10 students to draw a pine tree, you will soon see 10 different pine trees. Even if they each pick up the same numbered paint brush and dip it in the same color paint, there will be differences in their strokes. That’s what makes art so amazing.

In the late 1940s, Jackson Pollock shocked the art world with his seemingly uncontrolled splattering of paint. Yet, his paintings will go down in history for introducing an entirely new concept.

We think of most art as framed pieces to be viewed with the audience standing on the outside looking in at an image. Paintings by Pollock and other abstract impressionists seem to envelop you, bringing you inside and causing you to ponder and to wonder at the meaning or purpose.

Jackson Pollock moved from Cody, Wyoming, to New York City to study art.

Even though his early art consisted of figurative works, they had a nervous, almost brutal, energy that set them apart from the art by other students. As the theme of the splattered painting developed, it at first appeared random, totally intuitive. Then came the realization that years of training added to the natural ability, and his art responded to his personality. His paintings, some of them 8 x 10 feet, became a world of their own — a place for the viewer to step back and contemplate, yet to feel a part of.

I once knew a high school art teacher who thought Pollock’s work was ridiculous, a bunch of splattering that meant nothing but sloppy and uncontrolled work. When she introduced this style of art to her students, she said that by the end of the week, she could identify the splatterings of each student.

So, where am I going with this?

All of the members of the Art Center have their own reasons for belonging. It may be that they believe art is important as decoration in their homes or maybe their personal photography is enhanced by learning composition and lighting from viewing the works of others. Maybe they realize that found objects — old wood, metal scraps, folded paper, colorful fabric — can become an artistic creation or using a simple pencil and piece of paper is a fun and engrossing way to spend an afternoon. Maybe their goals include fame and fortune.

Whatever the reason for belonging to the Art Center, they understand that art is a part of our everyday lives and it adds to the richness and beauty of living.

Recently, I had the opportunity to teach creative writing to several groups of youngsters. We talked about sentences that tell you nothing and sentences that create pictures in your mind, and how much more interesting the mind pictures are. When I asked what it was, they all looked at me with blank faces. Then when I asked for ideas, they came up with it could be a book, a little girl, a guitar, an alligator, an endless listing. Then I asked what it was doing, and they smiled and hands popped up. Now, we were heading in the right direction.

Visual art is the same thing. What is creativity? Why do people belong to an organization that fosters thinking outside the box? I believe that it is not just for the fun of having a new picture to hang on the wall, but to expand the creativity that is inside of all of us, whether we use that creativity to select new drapes for the living room or to design a bird feeder that squirrels cannot invade.

The Albert Lea Art Center is here to encourage creative thinking — that something special inside of us that makes our world a better place.