I love this image of a graffiti spraying nun. My friend Andrea saw it on a birthday card and it made her think of me. It’s the perfect image to hold my intentions for the New Year.
This year I aspire to be a creative force for good in the world, and to have a lot of fun doing it.
I intend to be morally ambitious.
Both of these words carry a charge. Moral is a word people fight over. Ambition makes people uncomfortable. It’s easy to be cynical . But really, what is the upside to giving up on goodness? And is it better to exchange ambition for complacency or passivity?
I wonder what can be done to liberate these concepts from their unfortunate baggage and re-imagine them.
This graffiti painting nun has become a street artist. The way her tongue hangs out is just the opposite of self conscious or reserved. How can her audience fail to be surprised and delighted? I even love the way she wears her Habit. Not trying to blend into the crowd. Standing out instead. Unashamed of who she is and what she stands for.
Lately I’ve been thinking of life on earth as a big, messy, ongoing, collaborative art project, with artists of all styles and levels of talent determined to make their mark. The canvass is an old one and artists have been working on it for centuries, so its hard to find clear space. We are all painting over each other. It looks like chaos sometimes, but if you look closely you can see individual stories being told, and if you step far enough back you can observe the larger themes in play.
As a life artist, I am on a quest to find goodness and beauty and meaning in the complex and ambiguous.
A while back I read about the 5Pointz Graffiti Mecca in Queens, New York. For over a decade local and international street artists used this abandoned warehouse as a canvass for their art, so that it became an unofficial museum. The owner of the warehouse encouraged the project until real estate prices rose and he was offered a condo project so profitable he took it, and whitewashed the collection over night, to howls of protest, especially from those who had a motion before the courts to preserve it.
The graffiti museum reminds me of what anarchist writer Hakim Bey called a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), a festive occasion that liberates the imagination of those present so they can experience Life, penetrated by the Marvellous.
A TAZ gets its power from the shared experience of creating in the moment, not some misguided attempt to last forever. I’ve always been intrigued by that concept, as it seems true to the cyclical way nature works. Anything that aspires to permanence tends to be stultifying in the end.
So this is what’s on my mind and in my heart and on my screen and on my wall this New Year.
All that’s left to say is that I am actively seeking collaborators. Other morally ambitious creatives looking to put their gifts to good use, making beauty and meaning in a chaotic and ambiguous world. Committed to having a good time doing it.
Let’s see what we can create together this year.
Three morals in this story,
1. Inspiration comes from unexpected places and in unexpected forms.
2. If you’re going to be ambitious why not be ambitious for goodness and beauty and transcendent meaning.
3. Nothing last forever, and the daily experience of creating good work is its own reward.
Yours with creativity and imagination,