The Artists Speak of Freedom*


I went to the FREEDOM exhibit at Heliport Gallery with ONE question in mind:

             WHAT  IS  THE  COLOR  OF  FREEDOM?

 One artist wrote in the Gallery Book notes, freedom lets me SAY in words or in colors what I want, to make myself  a FOOL  if I wish…this artist’s RED SWAMP dominated my views of the gallery.

Another artist had her first tastes of freedom through music and art… In ART, she said, I must make my own restrictions…

The artist born in Sumatra knew his talent but suffered for materials.  Housepaint, he said, was what we had available.  In the U.S. he celebrates art supply stores and FREE public libraries.  Imagine, he said, books free for everyone.

The first artist said, In Burma they don’t like abstract art because they do not understand.  And I thought to myself how much I like a life with more than I can understand.  A landscape stretches beyond my comprehension—and waits for me.

One artist told that in her country they destroy the old in favor of the uglier new.  This is a sad and repeated story—my own mother regrets when she and her brothers cleaned their parents’ attic and threw away junk that would now be treasure.  Mother says, We can’t put old heads on young shoulders.  And so it goes.

The painter from Sumatra compared art to a sport, You must practice every day.  The musician saw it differently yet also agreed.

Freedom gave one artist discipline, another learned to paint outside the lines.

Freedom has many colors.  The red of blood and the orange of imagination and the green of life and the yellow of sun and the blue mood are in us and in our art.  Art has many faces.

*   These words grew out of a panel discussion with artists surrounded by their art at Heliport Gallery on November 14, 2006.  The names of the three exhibiting artists, in the order first mentioned above, are Dr. Kyi May Kaung, Win Pe, and Machyar Gluenta Dennis Sobin provided guitar music and his views about freedom in music.

JoAnne Growney,  Silver Spring, MD    December 2006 

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