Art as a Connection

In drawing class last week we watched a film about Keith Haring, an artist who started as a graffiti artist in New York City.  One of the most interesting part of the film discussed how his art brought thought-provoking visual material to the everyday citizen going about their daily routine. Fine art at the time was considered to be made and consumed by elite in art galleries and other sophisticated affairs. Both Haring’s physical placement of his art and his bold, eye-catching artistic styles made his works very approachable and consumable.

There’s the documentary if you are interested. However, If you already checked out his Wikipedia page, you’ll find out the film excluded some very important elements of Haring’s life and art. He was gay, he had AIDs, and a huge amount of his work dealt with those aspects of his life. I was pretty amazed that as short as 25 years ago, even the art community feared the stigma around gay issues too much to mention it despite it being an essential element in the artist’s life.

One thing the Haring film thinking about was the role a piece of art can have in our very personal lives. Especially with internet access, the ability for a human to see hundreds of various forms of art daily is possible. When a person’s art piece sticks with us, it makes it a bit more significant.

Our digital image processes assignment this week was to review an article about an illustrator. I found some articles online on Michael Whelan, who may be the uncrowned king of making awesome covers for fantasy and sci fi books. He did the cover art for several of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. The cover for The White Dragon caught my eye in the library. It drew me in to trying one of her books. It was my adult first fantasy novel. I went on to read all not only all of the Pern novels, but many other fantasy novels about dragons, fantasy and sci fi series, and other subtle forms of geekery. To this day, fantasy and sci fi novels are my favorites. A few years back, Brandon Sanderson wrote about his excitement over having Michael Whelan do a book cover for him. Sanderson’s story matched mine a great deal.

I didn’t know anything about Michael Whelan back when I was twelve and started in on Dragonsong. But even back then, I knew how frustrating it would be when a book’s cover or inside illustrations didn’t match the tone or the details of the story and characters. Whelan’s covers never had that issue. In my research for my review, I found out Whelan would almost always read the book before even starting his art. Sometimes when doing his cover art the book wasn’t written yet.  He did a lot of research, questioned the author about themes and details, and out of that he made his amazing illustrations. That connection was obvious to me, to Brandon Sanderson, and millions of others. Whelan’s award list from his years of illustration is impressive. What we have here is art inspiring, motivating, even connecting people across space and time.

How about you? Ever had a song connect with you exactly where you are? Found a friend through your mutual appreciation of a movie or video? Felt that when you looked at a painting, you knew exactly how the subject was feeling? Sometimes it’s a big part of our lives, and sometimes it’s just a spark of emotion. But it’s all a result of an artist knowing how to make that connection with you through their art. I am glad to be human and among artists as these.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s