Art is arguably a singular endeavor. The writer and painter, poet and dancer, composer and photographer, sculptor and weaver, almost always do it in solitary. There are, no doubt, studies of this peculiar trait inherent in the creative class. It goes beyond right brain, left brain. It is a need which manifests itself in the doing, the creating of our work by ourselves. This does unfortunately create times when we are removed from the everyday. We then reside in our own sphere of thought, often ignorant of the times and people around us. Admittedly, this is not very fair to them.
We may have a vision of where we would like to go. We will also need to be open to wherever that may take us. However, it takes us there alone. And while we see what is happening, those around us are often confused and skeptical, almost unsupportive. They do not, cannot, at that time, see what it is we see. That too is unfortunate. Sharing the bits and pieces already completed doesn’t really shed much light either.
Only when it is done, can it hopefully make sense to those not directly involved. In the creating, the parts individually do not add up to any recognizable sum. Consider Beethoven’s Fifth as a prime example of this. The first four notes are instantly identifiable. If he had stopped at three notes, it would not be very recognizable. It had to be complete. And so it is with our art. It has to be complete for it to make sense.
So as I printed and printed the photographs for “Arn? Narn.”, except for me, they made very little sense to others. Where was that fourth note? Was there a fourth note?
Fast forward a year or two later to an evening after my wife had returned from a powerfully emotional yet fulfilling trip. We sat down to catch up on each others work and activities during her absence. I was in the darkroom almost all of the time she was away. She had gone down to help in New Orleans after Katrina and came back moved, vulnerable, and a little raw. She shared with me her experiences, her thoughts, and what that tragedy looked like to her. How could she have returned any other way? We talked for quite some time about that.
She then wanted to know what I had been up to in that time. I told her I’d been in the darkroom almost exclusively and had finished the printing of the photographs for “Arn? Narn.”, would she like to see them? Yes.
I brought out the box of the 200+ photographs and gave them to her with the explanation they were as yet unedited and not in any proper sequence and then waited in silence. She looked at each one thoughtfully, pausing on some longer than others, making soft sounds of understanding. Her response was all I could have hoped for…they brought her to tears. I had found the fourth note.