Monday, May 18, 2009

Deep under your fingernails...

"ART IS NOT BUSINESS!... ART IS FOOD. You can't EAT it BUT it FEEDS you. ART has to be CHEAP & available to EVERYBODY. It needs to be EVERYWHERE because it is INSIDE of the WORLD. ART SOOTHES PAIN!... ART IS LIKE GOOD BREAD!"

These words from the "Cheap Art Manifesto" printed by the Bread & Puppet Press ring heartily in my ears these days. I went for a trip up to Glover, VT a couple of days ago to visit with a former student of mine--Nathan, who now works and lives at the Bread and Puppet Farm as the Resident Agriculturalist. Weeding intensively, creating and designing new bed space for lettuce, kale, broccoli, onions, carrots, beets--a garden is emerging once again on the land.

But the Manifesto--this cheap art, this movement shaped from radical ways of being and living. Of course, for me, this exceprt begs the question, "what is Art, then?" A question that will forever be asked and will forever evolve. One that will search for resolution through inspiration.

Weeding can be so tedious and boring, but this garden work that I participate in is for me a kind of art. Not every little green thing can be pulled and tossed aside. Sometimes it's edible, and other times it's worthy of being transplanted to a new space where it can flourish as a flower or head of lettuce.

How can we change our perspective to incorporate gardening and weed-pulling to be Art? To be made and available to everyone? To feed us like good bread feeds us? To inspire us to work harder and with full hearts toward that radical change and resolution?

Asking questions may be that first step. Is this really the work that needs doing? WHO is being FED by my labours? Are there walls between me and my neighbors--blocking the Art that is inside and everywhere, but on the "other side"?

And other words: "We lose our health--and create profitable diseases and dependences--by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving." (Wendell Berry)

I want to draw circles all the time, circles within circles to amplify and exemplify and demonstrate these concepts. Rings of beets, bowls of pac choi, slices of radish...


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