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"...[A]ll beauty in animals and plants is a quiet enduring form of love..." Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this line in a letter to a young poet (you can find the whole collection of his letters in Letters to a Young Poet), as he tried to let his correspondent, a young and aspiring writer, know that he could look to nature - plant and animal life - for inspiration and fodder. There is great beauty to be found in the world all around us. And for as long as art and artists have existed, they have tried to capture that beauty and to reflect it in their artwork. It serves as a reminder to all people that there is joy to be found in the world, that even the smallest things, from the tiniest hummingbird to the wispiest blade of grass, are important and enrich our life experience.
My father's father was a wonderful artist. He painted and took photographs, he drew and he sculpted. I feel incredibly lucky to have some of his work in my apartment now. He always took inspiration from the world that lay out of doors. A black and white photograph of a wooden fence post is so simple as to be terse. But it speaks volumes about the boundaries that we draw for ourselves, the way we carve up the earth and our lives, as well as the bleakness and the simplicity of life in the country. A sculpture of two polar bears, a mother and her baby depicts a stark iciness, but there is a warmth in the white marble figures, as a protectiveness and watchfulness of the mother is captured in the depth of her eye and the twist of her body.
When I look at these polar bears or at the photograph of the fence post, or any of his and may others' pieces of art, I remember that I should step outside and walk in the park, take time to be alone and think and treasure the great outdoors. For it was the intoxicating scent of a jasmine blossom that stirred me to write my first book, The Weight of the Sky, and the warbling song of a sparrow that brought me to my second, Song of the Sparrow. Thinking about land and animals and the spicy scents of exotic herbs took me to my most recent novel, A Map of the Known World.
Art and the world outdoors go together, and it's up to us to explore - and find joy in - both.
- Lisa Ann Sandell
Read my full-length interview with Lisa Ann Sandell.
Visit the artist's website and journal.