The Legacy of Your Art

Posted on April 23, 2012

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Almost everyone who reads my blog is an artist.  You may not look upon your work as art, but if you are creating anything original with what you do,  in my view, you are creating art.

Some art is uninspiring, derivative, or mediocre.  I doubt that anyone reading this blog is creating that kind of art.  Some of the books that I’m currently reading got me to thinking about the legacy of our art and life.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading the biography of Steve Jobs at the same time that I’ve started reading the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

The biography of Steve Jobs is brilliant, though I can’t wondering if I would like Steve Jobs if I had worked for him.  Yet, there’s no denying he was a great artist, and left a legacy of innovation that touched millions if not billions of people.

Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum, the quiet artist.  In the first chapter of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain describes a different kind of artist.  A social artist who was shy, quiet and strong in a different way.  Her name was Rosa Parks.  She too affected the lives of millions of people around the world with a different kind of courage and quiet strength.

Boats for Nicholas

Today, I am celebrating the art of a quietly strong artist, my mother.  Over her life, she has been creating works of art that have only been seen by her family. She created the paintings on this page for my kids and me.  I’m afraid my photos of her work don’t do it justice!

My mom studied art at Lake Forest College in 1947, after graduating a year early from high school because she skipped a grade growing up.  She was quite clever in so many ways.

She was offered a full scholarship for college, but her father, my grandfather refused to accept charity, so she didn’t finish college then.  It would be over thirty years later that she would graduate from college in 1984, with a degree in business.  She worked very hard and went on to work in the Department of the Army Budget Office in the Pentagon in Washington D.C. around the same time I moved back from New York to live in Chicago.

In recent years, she has created several paintings that she has given to me so that I could have original art in my house.  I don’t have her talent for visual art, though both of my boys do.

My mother taught me to never give up on being an artist, no matter what restrictions your world or life puts in your way.  It’s because of her to a large degree that I don’t give up on my artistic aspirations.  I just hope that I can be half the artist she has been.

A lighthouse for Alex

While it’s tempting to think that the world wouldn’t move ahead without people like Steve Jobs or Rosa Parks, I agree with words of Mother Theresa:

There are no great actions, only small actions done with great love.

Created with love, the art of my mother’s life, and my life and your life is just as important as anyone else’s.  Is it possible that our art carries the vibration of the love in which we created it?  I believe it does.  Therefore, creating art with love is the most important choice you can make for creating a worthy legacy.  I’m very grateful that I grew up with that kind of artist.

From what I can tell, creating art for love’s sake is the ultimate message that Steve Jobs wanted his biographer to articulate in his biography, so that his children could know his motivation for all that he did.

What would your biographer say about you and the art of your life?