Diane Stranz on American Life

Tapestries of Art will Change the World

Soundtrack for this Blog Post:  Ambrosian Junior Choir singing Suo Gan from the movie Empire of the Sun; Yo-Yo Ma playing Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission; Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell from Ken Burn’s documentary The Civil War

Why each of my blog posts from now on will recommend a ‘soundtrack’ to be played while reading the post, and, possibly, even quote a poem and/or painting and/or work of classic literature you should reflect upon as well:  Dorothy Day said that ‘Beauty will save the world,’ all true art contains beauty in abundance, and I believe in the transformative power of both beauty and art.  The purest form of beauty, in my opinion, is God’s natural Creation unadulterated by man (i.e. the beauty of nature, in all its wildness) — but art is God’s spirit expressing itself through man, so art is also a vehicle for beauty.

I especially believe in the transformative power of TAPESTRIES of art.  What is a Tapestry of Art?  It’s an interwoven blend of more than one art form in which the experience of the whole becomes exponentially greater than the sum of its parts (i.e., experiencing multiple, interrelated art forms at once can open dimensions inside you FAR beyond what experiencing one artform alone does) (being who God created you to be is all about nourishing, expanding and expressing your inner life — so, no, memorizing Bible quotes is NOT where it’s at).

This is why people are so affected by movie soundtracks:  because if you experience a song which just FITS with the scene you are watching, you are experiencing two powerful art forms at one time:  music and film.  This is why I also cannot complete a screenplay without also recommending a specific soundtrack to go along with it: the music which goes along with the story is not some random, unimportant part of the film that is best left to the discretion of someone else.  I am the artist crafting the art form which is my film script, and crafting the soundtrack is as much a part of my art as the story itself.  (At least this is how I feel.)

The Art Tapestry Project

Along these lines, I eventually plan to create, using artists who live and work  in my own community, The Art Tapestry Project:  a poet writes a poem, then a musician writes music inspired by the poem and records it — then a painter creates a painting inspired by BOTH the poem and the music.   The resulting collaborations (13 to 20 in number) would be published in a spiral bound booklet with a CD for the music.  When lying flat and open, the poem would appear on the left, a color reprint of the painting on the right, and the recipient of the Art Tapestry experience would listen to the relevant CD track while reading the poem and reflecting on the painting.  AMAZING EXPERIENCES would follow, I am positive.   (I contribute this idea freely to the public domain: feel free to rip it off and do it in your own community.  Go art!)

My first experiment in this direction was having Dallas painter Larry Harran paint while listening to a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, then we exhibited the final product at a performance of St. John’s Passion by the Dallas Bach Society (this was in 1997).  It was totally awesome, and led to the inspiration for the Art Tapestry Project described above.  But soon thereafter is when God led me into being REALLY REALLY poor — to the point where my second husband Jeff and I were actually homeless for a short period of time — so all of those cool ideas had to be shelved . . . UNTIL NOW!  WHOOPEE!    (If I can figure out how to digitize pictures of Larry’s art, I will eventually try to add them to this post.)

That’s all I have to say for today, but I will definitely write more on this topic in the future since it is so important and foundational for positive world change.  It is not really political activists who will change the world, but ARTISTS and LOVERS and — especially — the LOVERS OF ARTISTS!!  (smile)  I have been an activist at times in my past, and plan to be again in the future:  so I’m not condemning activism.  But to place activism above truth and beauty is like trying to get the tail to wag the dog.  (And by all means go watch Barry Levinson’s 1998 movie by that name — Wag the Dog — starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro.  ESPECIALLY if you want fuel for political activism!)