These Days: Signs and Wonderings
By Tom Wachunas
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” - Thomas Merton
“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance, and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” - Henry James
“The practice of any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” - Kurt Vonnegut
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom…” – James 3:13
These days, none of us need to settle for just imagining the ethos of human society confused and conflicted, fraught and frustrated. Writhing in our cultural wrecking and reckoning has been our actuality for a very long time.
These days, Charles Dickens’ anaphoric “it was…” in the classic opening of his A Tale of Two Cities surely lives on as a haunting, potent anthem of our NOW. It IS the best of times, it IS the worst of times, it IS the age of wisdom, it IS the age of foolishness, it IS the epoch of belief, it IS the epoch of incredulity, it IS the season of Light, it IS the season of Darkness, it IS the spring of hope, it IS the winter of despair…
These days, my artwork continues to trudge along in the mode of painterly assemblage/collage. The initial idea for my recently completed mixed-media piece, #signsandwonderings, was born while I was working in my backyard vegetable garden several weeks ago. Gardening has always been for me a prayerful time of reflection and meditation. My gloved and fisted hand pushes a trowel, pounding it deep into the heart of hardened earth. Call it a labor of love, this act of loosening and extracting, of preparing and sowing. Head, heart, and hand joined together, desiring a blessed harvest.
These days, I’m caught up in a whirlwind of wondering about what we will reap after this season of sowing such an abundance of viral words across social media – the codification of our human condition. Or on another level, we can regard the Internet as the digitalization of our tongues in their uttering words of angst and anger, fear and loathing, as well as, thankfully, words of hope, love, and healing.
This recent work of mine is visually structured to be a somewhat sculptural hashtag (a.k.a. pound sign). The hashtag is that ubiquitous web symbol - a slanted grid comprised of nine planes - used to identify an idea of importance. Think of it as planting seeds, or “pounding home” a message. The meandering scrawl of my handwritten text (in English and Greek) is drawn from the New Testament Book of James (James 3:3-18), wherein the brother of Jesus offers his counsel, cautionary and wise, on the power of the tongue.
Don’t own a Bible? No problem. These days, you can always #lookitupoonline. Be blessed.