Art as a Function of Evoking Memory

Wade SlaterLast semester I took a course in Color Theory. I have often been told that it was an odd choice for a culinary student to take an art class. However, I am of the school of thought that one eats with the eyes first. Food simply has to look appealing. And to me, food is art.

My instructor was Wade Slater, who had the distinct misfortune to listen to me blabbering on about theories regarding life, the universe, everything. (Brief nod to Douglas Adams.) I do tend to yammer on about whatever stray thought seems to enter my head, and yet he was kind enough to entertain my ideas. We spoke fervently about many subjects, and yet it always came back down to art and the power of color and shape and how it works in the imaginative space of the viewer. I am learning that nearly everything we do, say, or speak all comes back to the way in which we percieve the world through our tools of vision, our tactile senses, and the inner workings of the human mind.

During one of our conversations, Mr. Slater spent the time painting the above picture, which is acrylics on mat. He did it easily while discussing the impact imagery of any sort has upon our collective psyche and unconsciousness. Yeah, big words, but really quite profound and simple concepts. The whole time we discussed vast topics of color, he worked on this piece and spent energy into it, easily transitioning between color selections and concepts related to art.

The point of this post really isn’t the body of our conversation. I’d need a few hours to write it all down properly. The point is, at the end of the conversation, he smiled and gave the piece to me. He has this series of characters he has been working on. He even does sculptures and fridge magnets of these characters that he knows like the back of his hand. (They are on sale at a local coffee shop called Sacred Grounds. You should really go sometime.)

I was hesitant to take it because he obviously put alot of energy into it, but he seemed happy to offer it and I was more than honored to receive it. Yes, the picture is creepy cool. I love cool characters like this. The weird, the unusual, the freaky. But that’s not why I like it. This picture represents a moment in time. Its a meaningful conversation, that will forever be evocative of a specific moment for me.

Memories, while still in the moment of their birth, are the hallmark of future events, and the recall of them are the lens through which we create the present. I look back upon that conversation, and realize its significance for who and what I am in this very moment in time. I got to see the whole process by which this image was created. The paint being sloshed around in water to create a flowing medium, and the quick and sure hand that guided the brush across paper, all while the machinery of the mind was churning and struggling to give words to concepts and ideas that are, for the most part, in the realm of wordless and near-formless thoughts.

So right now, this weird little guy is on my bulletin board, staring at me every day, reminding me of a specific moment in time, much better than any Polaroid could. It is a pattern of thought, sigilized into an image.

So, along this line of thought, I now realize just how important it is to doodle, to keep the pen moving while thinking and to simply create, create, create. If thoughts truly become things, words and images seem to be the binding agent for triggering our subconscious to help it along.

When we pass these gifts out into the world, and sell our art, or post an image to a website I often wonder… Somehow, some way, is the energy and thought that went into making the image, and the pattern of chaos amidst the stream of consciousness that was alive inside the mind of the artist at the time of its creation, passed on and transmitted to the viewer?

The more I live, and the more art I allow into my own imaginative space, the more convinced I am that it is.

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