It’s not how, it’s why

I heard an interesting artist talk about his work: Olafur Eliasson. He does, as he calls them, spatial experiments. And then he makes these cool installations in museums which involve people and time and light. In a Brazil museum he constructed a floor of ice which — literally — destabilized the whole museum as people tentatively stepped on to the ice and slipped. Some, challenged by the dynamic of ice, became quite adventurous running and sliding dramatically, knocking into people and falling down. I think they had to close the installation to restore order.

At the Tate in London he make a huge sun-like sculpture, illuminated from inside and hanging very high in a big empty room. On the ceiling he put mirrors. People loved this room. They started lingering in the yellow light, sitting on the floor, eating picnics, laying down and looking up at their reflections way up high in the ceiling.

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Here’s a picture from tate.org.uk, from 2003. The exhibit was up for six months.

The talk was at MIT; Olafur Eliasson received the Eugene McDermatt Award in the Arts, and the audience was bristling with faculty and students and curators and artists of Boston. Someone in the audience asked him, ‘what advice would you give to a young person today, who wants to do what you do?’ And he said — I can’t remember the exact words but something close to this — it’s not how do I do this, it’s not how do I become an artist — it’s why. The important thing is the question why. The why has to be there, and it has to be so compelling that one must act on it.

Now that’s cool.

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Here’s a sun of my own making. And I made it because it is what I do.

Welcome to my blog where I write about the art and craft of my business.My goal is to make beautiful things, to make art part of everyday life, and to make my friends and family smile. Not necessarily in that order.

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