Over the weekend, I joked with my mother over my weird subject choices in high school, choosing to go with history rather than geography regardless of my better performance record in the latter. She knows, and it is common knowledge amongst those that know me best that I do love geography and can geek out sometimes when I do find something that intrigues me, more so with regard to vulcanicity.
Funnily though, I reminded her that the key reason for my choice was the ridiculous amount of drawing that was expected of me in studying geography. Considering that I have the drawing equivalent of two left feet while dancing, there was no way in heaven or hell I was going to put myself through that torture for two more years of high school. Ironically, my mother (a teacher of both history and geography) loves geography for exactly that reason: drawing. Well, I know which genes she may have passed on to me, but it definitely isn’t those ones. Luckily though, a few of the siblings did get that portion of blessings, or nurtured it themselves in time.
That convo took me back to a treasure trove I had discovered a month or two ago, and shared with a few like-minded people. You may rummage through it here first: a compilation of 6 stunning Kenyan artists.
Now, since coming across these masters of their own art and hounding their websites and social media pages when my dissertation-writing became a little too tedious, I became curious. Curious as to how they got there; how they stayed with their art, improved it and made it that exquisite. In an education system that looks down upon the arts and places disproportionate emphasis on elitist skill-sets (law, medicine, engineering blah, blah, blah!) I wonder what these people had to go through (or still are) to be at the top of their game as I see now.
And the thing is, they must have met severe challenges, stereotypes and pure stonewalling along that path. God knows the number of people I know who have had to suppress their artistic side for the sake of more “safe” career choices. Not only persons with gifted hands (no, no no, this is not a pun on that Trump endorsee), but with gifted feet, minds and bodies. Some have been courageous enough to blend that passion and talent into their more “conventional” paths, others plan incessantly to do so. And to them, I wish nothing but courage and perseverance.
Here, though, I speak for the down-trodden, who through no machinations of their own have been cast in chains and dragged through the drudgery of a bland non-artistic life that they would rather flog with those very torturous chains!
It pains me because they are a product of the system. Of parents who relive their lives through their children under the guise of “knowing what’s best” for them. Of an education system massacred into a reductionist remnant under the guise of reform. Of a society that fails to place importance on the producers of content that they consume every day in varied forms. Advertisements, cartoons, books, games, plays, dances, concerts.
I love my art. My posts on music are all over this site. I revel, however, more in those forms that I either don’t fully understand or have no gift in at all because I believe therein lies the greatest potential for awe. And a break from the drudgery (interesting as I find it) of legal study and practice.
A painting here, a drawing there. A concert for time to while away, or sometimes just a play. I only thought of collecting a few choice paintings later in life, and when my circumstances may allow. After seeing these guys work, and seeing their successive posts that detail their workflow (from rough sketches to exquisiteness), I think I will need a larger wallet, and a larger home.