Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Many Faces of Art

For some ‘as-yet’ inscrutable reason, whenever I step into a library or a book store, I find myself inevitably heading towards the ‘how to’ sections, ladled with a weird zombie-like fascination which I have yet to explain to myself. While most people in the vicinity try out the latest sci-fi/ horror/ romance/ thriller/ travel sections, I usually hang around the ‘writing’ section and get acquainted with the latest in what literary geniuses have to say about the art of the written word.
 But more often than not, I also find myself being pulled towards the culinary arts corner as well as the various other ‘artistic’ sections dealing with sculpting, painting, drawing, sketching, playing the piano or the guitar or the drums, working the needle, clothesmaking, dollmaking, beading, jewellery making, quilting, crocheting, cartooning, doodling, origami and flower arranging – to begin with. I guess, the inherent creative streak of humankind has a certain mesmerizing power over me and I always give into the hypnotic pull.

On one such occasion, while I was surreptitiously lurking through the papercraft/metallic works section of BORDERS – one of the most popular bookstores and one of my favorite haunts in Singapore, I stumbled across a white book which appeared at a distance to be dotted by various colours. I believe on hindsight that the colourful nature of the book elicited the initial interest (colours-especially many in the same place, have always been fascinating to me) and got me to stop my general lurking. I sat myself on the floor of the store and looked down at the book in my hand. Among the various brightly coloured fantastical clay creatures adorning the book’s cover page, I managed to notice some words like ‘polymer clay’ and ‘mythical creatures’. They got my attention. I leafed through the book, and page after page fascinated me, as I realized that ‘drops’ and ‘snakes’ of clay could be worked to create such wonders as these. Of course I had to try it. The book was bought and the fascinated cemented into an obsession (often happens to me).

I went through as much information as I could online, about the various different kinds of polymer clay, the companies which manufacture the clay, the stores in singapore which carry them, the different polymer clay artists in singapore and their creations, the tools needed to sculpt the clay, the mixed media required for embellishments and a lot lot more…it has been and continues to be an enriching experience.

I managed to purchase some clay in the basic colours and began some projects. The process of creating the gnomes and fairies etc was exhilarating and before a week was up I already had nearly ten figurines up and ready. That’s when it struck me-it was not the polymer clay that had given me the rush (it was just a medium). It was in fact the act of creating something beautiful from a lump of clay-that was what I took to. And I think, if I were to dabble with other creative media, I’d feel the same way.

Why is one so fascinated with beauty? Why is one so taken with making something out of nothing? What is it about creating that leaves the brain befuddled with overflowing ideas? It has all got to do with the god-like emotions that run through any artist both during and after the creative process. After all, God did create everything. He happens to be the master artist and we, fragments of the very same God. Indubitably, the artistic sentiment, the joy of creating, lies in our very souls. A chef, a writer, a painter, a musician or a clayer – its all about creating – that is who we are.

 Of course, if one thinks about it, creating is not just limited to artists in the conventional term. A medical practitioner who comes up with a revolutionary surgical technique, a molecular biologist or biochemist who discovers a cure for lymphomas, a businessman who invents brand new strategies to take his business to new heights or a software developer who works his wonders with the virtual world – they’re all artists – everyone of them.

We live our lives every day, dream our dreams and fight our struggles. And more often than not, we work the magic each and every day of our lives without even knowing that we do. If only we were to observe our creative potentials from without, if only we could be more perceptive to our divine natures and if only we could notice the many faces of art – ah! Life would be so much more meaningful then.

--------------Shreyasi Majumdar

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