Critic or Celebrator

Entitled Ushabtis Hetheru this is a bronze sculpture of a partial female figure with an exposed interior structure created by sculptor Blake Ward

Which are you, critic or celebrator?

I happen to agree with minimalist sculptor, Anne Truitt, who recounts in her Day Book the first time she became aware that she, the ‘self’ she considered to be okay and whole, was in fact, sadly inadequate.

One day, while very young, she was being dressed for a party.

Her mother and nurse were fixing her hair and trying to perfect a curl at the top of her head.

They went on and on about it, twisting, wetting and turning the hair so the curl would be just right.

They wanted to add something more to her, giving her the impression that she wasn’t enough without it and before she knew it, she wanted it too.

The praise was abundant and she felt proud to have that curl and to be more than she was before having it.

That was the lie behind the pride.

It was the fact that she needed to add something to that ‘self’ which up until that moment, that curl, had been terribly deficient.

From that moment on she understood how we become pleasers.

We deny ourselves, forfeiting our truths and even our self-worth, in order to get that praise that society will shower upon us, if we do the right thing.

Still, the right thing would be what exactly?

To be more like them?

Because as Truitt explains, humans will chastise anything unlike themselves.

If we can all conform and live within their ‘book of being’ we are not only accepted, but praised.

Who doesn’t want the praise?

Who doesn’t like to be doted on and idolized?

So, in time we sacrifice it all.

Even our art might be perverted into something they might understand and like.

We want them to like it, don’t we?

If we deviate too far from what they are, we lose page likes, we lose sales and even the art critics could turn the other way.

Why can’t we be celebrators and honour our differences?

What happened to empathy, to love and to compassion?

What happened to humility?

Must we really be so presumptuous as to think that only our way is the right way?

The self-righteous and cruel will gladly condemn us to “the darkness of their disapproval” [1] as judgment is passed, triggered by continuous peer pressure.

The truth is that we are all guilty of this.

It is a horrible automatism that is learned.

Indoctrinated to shred ourselves from that very first experience onward; when we discover that we need to be more that just ourselves because that is simply not enough.

We become a victim, a criminal and a judge all in one.

Talk about a vicious cycle!

So I think that being aware of this might help us remain humble, drop the preconceptions and celebrate others and their differences.

Truitt was not only a wonderful sculptor but also a psychologist.

She concludes:

“Unless we are very, very careful, we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves. This indifference can be, in its extreme, a form of murder and seems to me a rather common phenomenon. We claim autonomy for ourselves and forget that in so doing we can fall into the tyranny of defining other people as we would like them to be. By focusing on what we choose to acknowledge in them, we impose an insidious control on them…love, is the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery.” [2]

As Blake always says: “Love your friends for who they are, not for who you would have them be.”

By Boky