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Why Art? - CHANGE = CAPITAL

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 4/5/24 | 4/5/24


 I usually have some kind of epiphany when I travel to California. Of course, we all know how different the climate there is. Evidence of that is how everything seems to be oriented to the out of doors. In fact, the geography of California is completely spectacular. This time I began to notice something had shifted in my perception of my locating myself, my body in space. I noticed that the wind was drawing shadows with a tree, on the white wall in the garden of the home where I was staying. I had somehow expanded the scale of my perception to include these broader elements: universe, atmosphere, wind, tree, trajectory of sunlight, the white wall. 

When Emily came, we took a drive up to the Sierra Madre mountains passing through a long valley. Ip there, it seemed as though every half mile the geology around us was changing. 

Sometimes exclusively a rocky white terrain, larger and smaller size boulders, some sharp, some rounded strewn across the side of a mountain, where the opposite side of the mountain may have been rich in vegetation and fertile growth. The scenery kept changing throughout this journey, through the valley. At a certain point, Emily noticed that shade on the western side of a cliff produced dark green vegetation while the sharp edge defining the eastern side of the same mountain was barren. 

This experience of the sun and its relationship with the geography of the mountains gave us both another experience of our bodies locating themselves in a new way, in space and location. 

We began to talk about how (in contrast to fear and anxiety) curiosity reveals mysteries, and I realize, again, that throughout my life I've had the privilege of seeing things through new lens, of changing my perspective and my perception of things many many times, as though I was consistently developing a another kind of visual and spatial vocabulary. 

Today when I described this at lunch with friend, Anthony McCall, he said, “Don’t worry. This will keep happening.”

A few days ago in Delhi, at the Good Cheap Food, an East Indian woman saw my cap and remarked about the words Art = Capital. She asked me what that meant with some reservation in her voice. I told her that art is capital, but not the capital of industry that we associate with capital. But, that culture is currency. The currency of a society, a community, of civilization. It is a different kind of capital. 

Another way of looking at how we perceive things in the social context. 

Artists see things continually in different ways. Curiosity leads to mystery and discovery. It's not as though artists see things the same way throughout their lives, but because artists are aligned with change, they see change and physically embrace change. Change is integrated in the life of an artist naturally, and curiosity is manifested through unknown, unexpected experiences. 

My partner, Emily Marie Harris, recently astonished me in how she's adapted and defined a new method of experiencing time. Until recently, she's been traveling every two weeks into New York City to assist her elder artists, friends, and clients that she originally met through the A IR Gallery, the first women's art cooperative possibly in the United States. 

At this time, many of her friends and mentors are leaving the world. She's now the postmaster in Meridale. Anyone can meet her if they get there between eight and 12:00 PM every morning, except Sunday. Her rhythm has changed from being a traveler to being local. Her physical experience of time is adapting to a new way of life and living. We can learn a lot from people like that.

When artists produce work, the work is materialized experience of change, of interconnection with others and of connection with the material and non-material world\s. Their art creates change. 

“Art = Capital.” ~ Joseph Beuys, 1971

Change = Capital ~ ICAI, 2024

Emily Marie Harris and John Dileva Halpern are artists living in Delhi, New York. They are advisors to the Liberal Arts Department, SUNY Delhi and founders of the Institute for Cultural Activism International. Their biweekly 1pm broadcast, Tuning Fork FM is on Radio Roxbury, WIOX 91.3FM. Their March 2024, zoom broadcast featured artist, Fred Wilson. Watch on ICAI TUNING FORK. You can find Emily at the Meridale Post Office: 8am-12pm, M-Sat.

For Info: www.instituteforculturalactivism org

“Advancing the Other

Advances the Tribe.”


Institute for Cultural Activism International 

https://www.instituteforculturalactivism.org/about


John DiLeva-Halpern, ICAI founder

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Halpern_(artist)




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