Fine Art Witchery: Where the Arts & Magick Meet

An exploration of the metaphysical intersection between the Fine Arts & Witchcraft: including history, current usage, and practical application.

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Art is Temporary, As Are We

"And they painted on cardboard, because it was new, cheap, and affordable. But they didn't know it wasn't archival, so very little of that work remains intact."  -The words of one of my art history professors, talking about a group of abstract expressionists or similar genre of artists from the 40's-50's. 

It sounded like some sort of moral failing - that these artists had abandoned expensive, time-tested techniques of canvas or wood panels to try something they could afford and was plentiful.  

Having been in art school for a good chunk of my life, as well as a professional high-end picture framer, I have come to see how much museum-culture of the last 300 hundred years has had an effect on the modern art-making process.  That we must work with archival materials, watch out for UV light and dampness, preserve, preserve, preserve.  Think about the future of your work.

The other week while finishing up my book tour, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore, as well as watched the 15-minute film about the making of it. I believe it was in part of a speech from FDR where he talked about the world 10,000 years from now, and what future generations of Americans may think when they see the monument, worn by the weather and time.  In that moment I was thinking two things: if there are even human beings on this planet then - and the condition of the giant sphinx in Egypt.

Just outside of the Mt. Rushmore theater is a display showing how they are trying to preserve the monument with bolts and silicon filler as cracks appear and threaten to fall out whole sections.  Trying to defy weather and time.

The nature of being human is know that we're physically mortal.  That our time on this planet happens in but a blink (or many blinks if you believe in reincarnation.)  The nature of art is to express what we're feeling in that time and moment.  To share our experiences, to put into visual format something that may not be able to be expressed in any other sort of way. Yet, probably because we recognize we are just a blip in the timeline, we can be obsessed with leaving our mark on the world somehow.  To show we existed, we lived and did.  

The reality of being an artist is, that just like life, art is temporary.  Maybe early man didn't just paint in caves, but over everything?  And the caves were protected from the elements, so that's what survived.  Much surviving marble statuary from Greece, Rome, and Egypt were colorfully painted, but only the stone remains. The portfolios of art I made in grammar school? Got soaked in a roof leak and molded. Trashed. The murals I painted at the RISD store and in the student center? Painted over when they remodeled. Canvases destroyed in moving, whole boxes of art "lost" by UPS. Art lost in divorces, destroyed by fire and hurricanes, art stolen. Then there's the art I paint over because I'm no longer happy with it/need the panel for something else. It sucks to lose art, but the great thing is: as long as I'm still alive and able, I can make more. And it will continue to grow and change, because it reflects my own experiences. 

I've been ruminating about art and leaving a mark in the background since the stop in South Dakota. However, yesterday I saw someone post a graphic comparing the tearing down of Confederate statues to ISIL destroying ancient artifacts - and other people bemoaning the loss of "art" and "culture."

That really broke my brain, and I could probably write a few chapters on just that, but I'll try and keep it short. I'm going to start with art: there's art for art's sake, and there's art with an agenda (advertising and propaganda).  Like while I'm sure there were artists during the Renaissance who were devoted Christians, reveling in exploring the realm of God and Jesus (in the same reverence that I explore Pagan deities) - but the bottom line is that the Church was a well-paying patron.  (And churches generally get to be well-preserved, so that artwork lasts - but we also know quite a few of those artists love painting Greek and Roman myths in their off time). Nearly every government uses the arts as a means to expand on a platform. Sometimes there are sincerely good, educational for-all intentions behind it. In Seattle, corporations and builders must spend a certain amount on public art.  That doesn't mean it's great art or that the artist was fully invested in the idea - but wanting paying the bills is something most artists like to do. 

Confederate statues - particularly ones that celebrate the tenants of the Confederacy-  were put up not to commemorate the loss of life decades after it happened, but to use art as a means of social propaganda. The culture they were made to celebrate is not one of heritage, but of slavery and the mindset that accompanied it. They were made not to inspire the future to better ideals, but to evoke past ideas. The call to remove them is not about erasing history (because removing a statue does not remove knowledge of history) but to remove art that was designed to intimidate and threaten, to call upon less than humane ideals and racist beliefs.

ISIL, on the other hand, is destroying monuments and historic sites to erase ALL OTHER CULTURES AND BELIEFS that differ from their own.  It's not enough that constant war has destroyed many beautiful things people have made over the centuries, in addition to the bruising from the sands of time.  It's taking those remnants and pulverizing them to erase them. 

So let's think about those two: A request to treat human beings equally - to remember our history, but also learn from it, without celebrating the terrible mistakes and ideas.  To continue to work towards building a more equal society where everyone is welcomed. Or the belief that one way is the only way, and that all others must be completely destroyed. 

You can't even put these two things in the same basket. The only things here that go in the same basket is ISIL and Nazis. 

As an artist I'm saying: art is not permanent, for better and for worse. However, there is always an opportunity to make more, to reflect the best parts of humanity versus preserving the worst. To use art to inspire our current generations, and maybe - just maybe future ones. But there's no guarantee.  

As a Witch, I'm saying: what you put belief and energy into, manifests. That we are capable of great change and power.  Sometimes things must be destroyed in order to make room to create it anew.  But we must follow our conscience to understand the difference, and use wisdom to act accordingly. 

In the end, the thing we should ask ourselves: if the art we make outlives us, what do we want to be remembered for? What message to we wish to pass down? That we staunchly held on to bigoted ideas, or that we aspired to be something more powerful?

We have just a brief time on this planet: make it beautiful. 

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Laura "Tempest" Zakroff is a professionally trained visual artist, designer, writer and a Modern Traditional Witch. Her artwork explores the realm of Myth and the Esoteric and has been featured in numerous publications and shows across the world. She is also is a world-renown belly dance performer and instructor, focusing on sacred and darkly inspired fusions that pull from the traditions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. She is based in Seattle, WA.


  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Saturday, 19 August 2017

    Well said and thought provoking! Thanks for posting. I have forwaded this to a few artist friends. Namaste, Tasha

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