Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fitz: Art and Murdoch

Art – in all of its various forms – has intrigued me from a very young age. My parents bought me a plethora of sketchbooks, colored pencils, paint and more. They encouraged me to bring my sketchbooks wherever we went, even out to dinner at nice restaurants. Throughout middle school I was surrounded by supportive and encouraging art teachers and even spent a summer taking art lessons from a local painter. When I reached high school, however, soccer had begun to take up a significant amount of my time as I played both for a travel team and my Regional ODP team. I had just enough time to get my schoolwork done after practice and not much time for anything else. With art on the backburner, I filled this void with doodling. I became an avid doodler, drawing on almost every page of notes, the fronts and backs of binders and on any scrap piece of paper I could find. Sadly enough, I have not seriously drawn (as we have this semester) since my 8th grade art class, a class focused more on painting than actual sketch work. While I am incredibly glad that I took this class, it pointed out to me the many weakness in my fundamental technique. I passed up opportunities to take art classes in high school and my earlier college years to commit myself fully to soccer. Looking back on these decisions I would not change a thing. I have the rest of my life to pursue my passion for art and relearn the techniques and skills that I have neglected for all of these years. During this semester alone I have gained more knowledge about drawing than I have in the past 21 years of my life. One of the most important lessons I have taken away from this class is the importance of practice, patience and time commitment. It is difficult to produce a quality piece of art when you begin working on it the night before it is due! All in all, this past semester was an eye-opening experience that will only encourage me to continue working hard and to absorb the wealth of knowledge around me.

For the past year I have been working closely with the philosophical writings of Iris Murdoch. My independent study focuses specifically on Murdoch’s philosophy of art. Art, she believes, has a unique ability to reveal without explaining. It is a universal language, a portal to the Truth and Beauty that lies beyond the basic understanding of man. I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Murdoch. My work with her writings is one of the factors that encouraged me to take this class. Art is a physical instantiation of thought. It is the closest thing, I believe, to being able to see into the mind of another person. Whether that be in the form of literature, painting, music, drawing or dance, art reveals to us something true and real about ourselves and the world we inhabit. In one of Murdoch’s philosophical works, The Sovereignty of Good, she compares art to morals, saying that both require a disciplined eye and an ability to distinguish fantasy (“I like it”) from reality (“there it is”). This, to me, is the definition of great art – a work that strikes me and moves me and causes me to reevaluate the current “reality” that I see. As I go forward, I hope to build upon what I have learned here so that I may better express myself to others and continue to expose myself to art in every way possible.

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