Art as Experience part 1

There is a great book titled "Art as Experience" by John Dewey.  Well, I'm told it's a great book by people I respect, but with its dense academic speak I find it difficult to decipher.  I have been trying to get through it since 2002 and have yet to finish it.  In chapter 1 we see that the purpose of the book "is to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience."  

My interpretation of this is that we need to return to the relevance of art in everyday life.  This challenge is upon viewer and artist alike, though in different ways.  As artists it is our job to create aesthetic experiences for people, but also to use experience in the art making process. I'm not sure that any one has ever used their experiences to create art to the degree of Mississippi Gulf Coast artist Walter Inglis Anderson.  His lengthy sojourns to Horn Island off the coast of Mississippi provided him with the opportunity to draw and paint in seclusion and unity with nature, fully experiencing all it had to offer through his work.  

Walter Inglis Anderson

Walter Inglis Anderson

So art becomes the byproduct of the experience instead of the single goal.  I recently had the opportunity to follow in Anderson's footsteps by going out to Horn Island for a painting expedition with a couple of great painters from Louisiana, Billy Solitario and Mary Monk.  We had a friend drop us and our gear for three days of painting and camping.  It was beautiful that first day.  The bugs weren't too bad, and there was a breeze making the shade of the pine trees a pleasant place to paint.  Osprey and bald eagles majestically flew around us.  A fireside dinner concluded a wonderful day... until all hell broke loose.  

To be continued...

Jerrod Partridge