Here’s to the Artists

An article on art

A
CLASSROOM
THOUGH

by Gary e. Armstrong

As most of you know, I find myself involved and engaged in my life, teaching and making art. I love creating. I love this experience. I love the idea of being alive. I want to help you see how art relates to my sense of appreciation for what life has to offer. Learning for me is everything.

I’m not bored. As a matter of fact, I am excited about life’svarious expressions. I constantly find myself interested in a sundry of things and I don’t have enough time to do them all. Teaching and art is a way for me to share some of my experiences and insights with my students. For example, I discovered this poem when I was at Cranbrook during my graduate studies: I’ve kept it with me ever since. It reads:

I
am the great sun, but you do not see me,
am your husband but you turn away.
am the captive, but you do not free me,
am the captain you will not obey.
am the truth but you will not believe me.
am the city where you will not stay.
am your wife, your child, but you will leave me.
am that God to whom you will not pray.
am your counsel but you will not hear me,
am your lover that you will betray.
am your life,
but you will not name me seal up your soul with tears,
and never blame me.

The author of this poem is unknown; it was discovered in the sixth century, but is still profound today. This poem has a very open ended message, but I think it’s quite substantial: the message is hidden enough to instill curiosity. It talks about something that is pervasive in our lives. “The one” (our being), that is in contrast to “the many” (our external reality.)

Students who have taken any of my classes can see how this poem relates to the ideas that I present in class – curiosity, mystery and closure. These more esoteric factors, coupled with practical classroom experiences and exercises, teach us how to put things together into a unified design or into something that “works”.  As artists and designers, we unify an sundry of material things such as lines, planes, color, texture, space, time, motion, computer technology, needle and thread (the tools) and then creatively combine them into a singular, balanced, unified whole.    

Thus, the idea is to unite the temporal (the external reality) with our sense of ourselves (our internal self-knowledge), or to say it another way—to unite the many different things with something constant.  This is a hard concept to comprehend when we become so pre-occupied with our material existence; in doing so, we generally neglect the one constant we know best—ourselves.   Thus, to make art, we need to tap into our innate knowledge of the eternal in order to express the artist within.  I believe this parallel is shown in the above poem—we are constantly trying to balance “the many” temporal externals with the “one”, which is our being, in order to create dynamic art.

“BUT, MOST IMPORTANTLY, AS I
SAY IN CLASS – WORK HARD AT
YOUR GIFT,HAVE FUN, DON’T
WORRY, AND BE HAPPY – I
CAN GUARANTEE THAT THIS
FORMULA CAN’T FAIL.”

The Dalai Lama and other schalors discuss peace in Newark Summit

Dalai Lama in Newark ,New Jersey

First billboard idea

Second billboard idea

First published book on my art

United Nations Children’s Fund artist

Comments

Dear Gary,

From your history with non-profit organizations, I can tell you have a passion for using your incredible talent to help others – especially children. On behalf of all the children and adults with autism who are served here at Eden, thank you very much for finding
our organization worthy of your support.

Ester Chapman EDEN INSTITUTE FOUNDATION, INC.
Princeton, New Jersey

Gary Armstrong, a truely gifted artist who gave not only his time, talent and the beautiful art that became the poster, letterhead, flyer and program, but also put his heart into this event and gave what I sometimes needed most, support snd understanding.
Thank You

Event Chair, Marcy Dalsey

THE SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY REGIONAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL and
THE MICHAEL BOLTON FOUNDATION benefit.

Copyright © 2018 Gary e. Armstrong