Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Some wisdom of age
Vail, CO, Colorado
I started with the straightforward answer to the question, using the art supplies at hand. A paper plate. A picture of a badass squirrel in a mood. I took a bite out of a cookie and put it atop the picture on the plate.
I named this work: “Where’s mine?” Done. Time: 30 seconds.
The question posed to our workshop: “What’s the most important problem in the world and what is your solution?” Something like that.
I felt a little smug. Covered the human conditions of greed, need and maybe even envy with a plate, a picture and a cookie. Simple yet layered.
That left 30-40 minutes left in the exercise, and my wiser, more earnest classmates were busy with their supplies — pipe cleaners, cut out pictures, Styrofoam balls, posterboard, putty, poster board, everything but paint or paste, essentially.
So I went indirect, abstract, held the question in my mind and then fussed through my supplies and an 1999 edition of Time Magazine (wow, thick) and plucked what called to me without active thought.
I tore out a white page with only the words “What’s your measure of success?” on it. Then cut out picture a little boy in diapers holding globe over his head and placed it above the words. Then a picture of two worlds, or stars, colliding on the top left. Then the only three-dimensional part: a pure white foam ball glued with a bit of putty on the bottom right.
At middle left, a picture of Paris at dusk, the brightest lit boulevard leading to the Eiffel Tower. Below that a picture of a fat cat on a royal little pillow.
A man aiming a blue ball, as if a bowling ball, at Paris on the right, just below the text, the laughing boy holding the world in his hands, the Styrofoam ball at his feet.
I went at it unconsciously as I could, just to see what turned up. No idea whatsoever what I meant, although I invented a narrative later, one that included need, greed, and maybe even touched on envy.
And infinitely more interesting — well, only to me — than the quick, direct answer to the question.
I drag this out because I’m still thinking about it, two weeks later.
Todd Siler (please google him), who is the real deal, gave us a glimpse of the inner world of the artist. Yes, a lot like childhood, only that a precious few like Todd transcend that inner world to reach the rest of us.
I loved the Vail Symposium lecture and slide show, but the exercise helped me begin to understand.
The things kids just know already, and how quickly this bit of wisdom leaks away with adulthood.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2920.