Figurative artists illustrate, abstract artists deconstruct, filmmakers shoot and photographers photograph. As art appreciators, we more or less depend on the artists in these categories to stick to their script. We like enough predictability to deliver a sense of the familiar; it’s a safety net woven from fulfilled expectation that protects our sensibilities from red-lining too far off center.
I wonder, though, how true the above statements are when examined in the context of faith and the visual arts. Is our spiritual hunger satisfied when we watch a documentary film, or when we view an artist’s rendering of Jerusalem circa 5 BC? When the subject of their work is scripture, or the parables of Jesus or personal memoirs of the miraculous, there are just so many directions an artist can go.
Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art. ~ Leonardo da Vinci
DaVinci’s statement acknowledges the role of the spirit in the creative activity of the artist. The quote headlines the blog of artist Roberta Karstetter, whose work is on view this week at The Art Blog. Ms Karstetter creates with found objects. Her discipline is known as assemblage art. I am drawn to the ‘visible memories’ that I see when I spend time viewing Karstetter’s work. When I look at a piece of her work, fragments of my own past detach from their neurological anchors, and begin to once again free-associate in my mind. Karstetter provides me with the gift of reflection, and release, of my very human past.
As a body of work, Karstetter reexamines the Christian story from a highly subjective point-of-view. I say hers is a point-of-view worth meeting first-hand. What Karstetter chooses to emphasize with her assemblage art is, I imagine, as much choice as chance. That’s the artist’s way, that’s the creative life, that’s spirit at work with the hand. That’s art.