Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anne Truitt, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about the sculptor Anne Truitt and included some of her quotes which have inspired me.  Here are more of them...   

  "I am human; nothing human is alien to me. I was fired by this concept: the entire range of human experience is available to every single human being.

     "What [this] added up to for me was a decision to try to experience as much as I could with as open a mind as I could, in the hope that if I did so my desire to 'know God,' to understand 'the meaning of life,' might perhaps come to some result. At the least, I would undertake to lead a life as properly aligned as I could make it."
     When I go into the studio, or when I go to tutor, I try to remember to say a prayer to ask God to help me channel him in everything I say and do.  I want my artwork to be a direct expression of his love and creativity.  I want the words that come out of my mouth when I teach to be directly from him and ones that will help my students learn exactly what is right for them at that given moment.  I do my best teaching, my best painting, and my best partnering when I remember to get out of the way.

     "I walk around these sculptures (in her retrospective exhibit in 1991) in my mind and consider their existence. They look so objective. Yet each one sprang from the very core of my subjectivity. I see in them no trace of the hours and hours of intense labor by way of which they were made. People sometimes ask me if I feel as if my sculptures were my children. I do not. The love I feel for my children is unique in my experience. Nothing is comparable. But it occurs to me this morning that they too are transformations of secret, silent resources similar to those out of which these sculptures emerged." Looking at her sculptures, a person might think they were completely analytical pieces, devoid of feelings because they are so smooth and pure. I am fascinated to learn how much intensity is behind them. I have a feeling that's true of most artist's work - no matter how simple they look, they most likely contain all the intensity the artist could hold at the time. When I paint, sometimes the intensity comes through very clearly, like Dancing Woman. I was feeling a lot of feelings when I painted the final layer of it, and I think that is visible on the canvas. Other pieces have just as much intensity, but it is quieter and isn't as obvious.

     I love what she writes about teaching. She was a University professor for many years. "My faith in this way of teaching has grown over the years. I find that only honesty serves. I can have no hidden agenda, no inordinate urge to impose my influence. I must be open myself if I am to suggest that students open themselves to themselves. And I must use my highest energies.
     "...Teaching is an anxious business. A teacher has such power to damage, and the damage can be so subtle. It is a moral discipline to keep a watch on invidious motivations. On pride, for example, for just in the nature of the relationship between teacher and pupil, the teacher knows more and can dominate, to the detriment of a student's self-respect. A teacher's cruelty - not too strong a word - can be as unconscious as that inflicted by insensitive parents.
     "The finest teaching touches in a student a spring neither teacher nor student could possibly have preconceived. The Latin root of the word 'education' is educere, to lead forth. Teaching may elicit self-knowledge but unless it also leads students into an ever-broadening view of art and life, self-knowledge results only in self-expression."
     When I teach, I do my best to help students discover who they are. I feel like they know best what they need to express. My job is to ask the right questions or to give the right prompts then to listen then to get out of the way so they express what they've discovered. It's a glorious process!

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