Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Little Prince - Le Petit Prince

I start to read The Little Prince again after leaving it on the book shelf for many years. As I am growing older, I found I like this world famous book more and more....

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - The Little Prince


Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.

In the book it said: "Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion."

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked like this:

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.

But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?"

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:

The grown-ups' response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

So then I chose another profession, and learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown a little over all parts of the world; and it is true that geography has been very useful to me. At a glance I can distinguish China from Arizona. If one gets lost in the night, such knowledge is valuable.

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say: "That is a hat."
Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Between Art and Craft

An Revelation in Understanding of Art

Last Saturday was a day to be remembered because I reached an epiphany in the understanding of art. My ceramics teacher had a brief discussion with me regarding factors in creation of art. This talk was a continuation from the topic of centering versus off-centering pots, from the previous post. My teacher described he has seen artists making life-like clay figurines, modeled after birds, trees, down to the details of feathers and everything. One could mistakenly think the clay figurines are real birds or animals from afar. However, is there any value in this close resemblance to living creatures? Does a life-like bird figurine move its audience emotionally at all? What could one say about a creation as such beside “It’s neat”? The distinction between art and craft lies in the answers to these questions.

After class, I was sent to a near-by gallery, Trax, by my instructor who has informed the gallery owner/artist the week before about my curiosity in off-centered ceramics artwork. When I arrived at Trax, Mr. Robert Brady was working on throwing pots without water, so his wife received me and answered some of my questions in methods of making off-centered pots. Visiting Trax is an inspirational experience to me. I was truly amazed and touched by some of the art pieces on display in the gallery. I am so determined to make my pots functional art pieces from now on.