Friday, June 06, 2008

the future is yours, child

the future is yours, child
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
When I saw this beautiful princess mingling with her family between recitals on Saturday, I had to ask her if I could take her picture. She ran to a tree about 20 yards away and posed. Her Mom accompanied me and I went over and talked to her. As we spoke, I had one of those rare second-sight experiences. I saw joy, and fulfillment in her future. I could sense a depth of support and love for her that made my heart smile.
The photo is not very good because the light and leaf shadows and breeziness made it quite impossible, but she is beautiful nonetheless.

I love to take shots of Princes and Princesses, usually when they're at work playing. A child's work is the work of play. Play is the discovery, as well as the expression of one’s self. One explores, finds one’s self, and expresses one’s self through play and fantasy. In this sense, it is art.
I always feel that art is a form of play. It certainly is when considered with the concept of “work.” Now, lest you think that I don’t take art seriously enough when calling it play, might I suggest that you don’t take play seriously enough so as to feel the word, “play” demeaning to the concept of art?
Ironically, we use the word, “work” when referring to art, but if you think about it, the word is nearly always applied to product as a noun. “She will display her work next weekend,” or, “his work is always first quality.” When work is a verb in this context, it refers the creative process by which a work is created. And yes, the process of acquiring the knowledge of one’s self, the ability to dig deep, observe keenly, and develop the technical skills by which expression is made possible is a daunting, working task – but expressing, ought never to be work.
A water spigot is made to deliver water to me when I open it, but I would never feel that the spigot is working when I wash my hands. If fact, it seems more accurate to me to realize that the spigot is working when it is not being used because it is holding water back. When it is being used, it relaxes and allows the water to flow as it was made to do. It expresses, if you will.
Ballet is a beautiful, expressive art form. To watch a dancer become hidden by the dance, is to see her more deeply and clearly. Sadly, the culture of ballet too often draws those parents who desperately need vicariously to remedy their missed chances, denied dreams, stolen opportunities, or even personal inadequacies. They are not giving their children opportunities they never had, they are taking those opportunities vicariously at the expense of their children. In this too-common scenario, the child is working for the parent, and nothing is being expressed.
Play allows a child to enter a world of fantasy and thus learn to differentiate between fact and fiction, fantasy and reality; and when appropriate, to seek to meld the two. But when fiction and a parent’s fantasy are forced upon a child, the child has no ability to differentiate it from reality, and thus, never learns what is, or who she his.