To arrest motion
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.” — William Faulkner
I could really identify with this quote, because even without being an artist, I’m always trying to arrest motion with my camera. When I take the time to look back over photographs from years past, it amazes me how much I would have completely forgotten without the pictures that help me remember.
When I read Faulkner’s quote, I realized that is why I so love art galleries. Viewing art is a chance to peek through the windows into other worlds. The really good artists, whether they use paint or photography or sculpture or words, capture the motion in the subjects of their creativity, and bring it to life again and again within the mind of every person who experiences it. Since each of us will see or read a work through the lens of a life that is also unique, the art really does move again, growing and changing from one beholder to another, never quite the same.
If your life feels unsatisfactory or downright sad, try getting some perspective by visiting other lives available to you through the arrested motion of art. If you are reading this blog, you have the means to access the world’s greatest museums right at your fingertips. Or re-visit your own life, through photographs, letters and other mementos. If you are feeling happy or contented or frustrated, try arresting that joyful or angry motion through creative work of your own, whether it be a photograph, a craft project or a letter or journal entry.
Those of us who believe life is eternal can readily appreciate that this immortality is evident in many ways, including the lingering fragrance left behind by souls long ago passed from this life. Thanks to art, we can see as they saw, and join them in appreciating and understanding the wondrous as well as the deceptively ordinary. Have you unlocked any arrested motion lately? If so, what did you see? Where did it take you?