Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Permanence and Transience in Art and Motherhood

So I was in for a real treat when we were privileged to attend the opening of a new art exhibit at the Weber State art museum. (Since the head of the art department lives next door to us, we get in on all the good stuff there!)

This art installation was simply salt on a polished black floor.

The artist, Motoi Yamamoto, came from Japan and spent a week painstakingly arranging salt into a masterpiece that can be enjoyed as a whole big beautiful cosmic thing or as intricate lace-like patterns.

In a month, the community is invited to come and gather up all the salt and take it out to the spiral jetty in the Great Salt Lake where it will be "returned to the sea." The kids definitely want to help with that - to be allowed to not only touch but actually destroy something amazing like this delights them somehow.

But the thought of this beautiful thing being destroyed is a harder concept for adults to embrace. We are attached to the idea of permanence. We want to make our mark, to build for the centuries, to leave our legacy. We don't like seeing our doing undone (one of the hardest aspects of motherhood is seeing our doing get undone again and again and again!).

Perhaps we adults need to learn to embrace transience and repetition more.

We're happy when we make a beautiful meal or cake and see it consumed. But when we make our homes clean and beautiful and then see that cleanliness eaten up by everyday life, we aren't so happy. When we get all the clothes clean and folded into pleasingly neat piles and then those same clothes end up in the hamper shortly thereafter, the cycle and repetition can feel so mundane. Sometimes it seems that nothing we do as moms stays done. But perhaps it's in the doing and undoing that the greatest things end up getting done. Our characters are built and our lives are shaped as we do, then do again, then do better, then do again.

Could we learn to view the cleaning, the laundry, the baths, the tuck-in's, the meals - the things that need to be done and then get undone and then need to be done again - more like Motoi Yamamoto views his art? As something worthy of our time and effort even though it doesn't last and will need to be done again? As something we can make anew again and again and find joy and art in doing repeatedly? As something that can be really gorgeous even though the ingredients and motions involved are quite mundane? As something that doesn't need to be permanent to have great value? As something that can actually be MORE special and wonderful BECAUSE it's transient and fleeting?

Here's a video of Motoi at work. Click HERE or below the image to watch. As you watch, think about the motions of motherhood and how they can be viewed as art.

Click here to watch: http://vimeo.com/68486340


Jill B. said...

What a lovely thought that I really needed to read this morning. Thank you.

Brita Szymanski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chelle said...

My favorite post of yours EVER! This has been my biggest discouragement and struggle with motherhood. Your insights are so wise and have given me something beautiful to ponder. Your words make me realize that there is beauty and promise IN the chaos of deliberate motherhood.

charity said...

looooove this! saren, you're amazing and the best!

Eyrealm said...

Absolutely love this comparison to real life. What an astonishing accomplishment with salt! Who knew? Just love the comparison with the painstaking work of motherhood! The kids may not see the beauty but someday they will appreciate the effort (when they become parents).

Kathryn said...

Nice post Saren. Looks like a beautiful exhibit.

Shera said...

Beautiful post! Thank you Saren, this spoke to my heart.

Joseph and Tiffany said...

Thanks for your thoughts! I was putting stinky laundry into the washing machine and thought of Motoi Yamamoto. I had to come back and leave a message to say thank you! We can view the done and undoneness of family life as beauty--just like Motoi Yamamoto sees the beauty of salt that will be returned to nature. Thanks for helping me have a great, thoughtful moment in the middle sorting stinky laundry!

Saren Loosli said...

Thanks so much for letting me know about your stinky-laundry moment, Tiffany!


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