catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 5 :: 2014.03.07 — 2014.03.20


What is art?

Editor’s note: Creative writing students at Surrey Christian School in British Columbia were given an assignement by their teacher, Leanne Engbers: submit writing to catapult magazine on the topic of “Making Art.”  The following is a selection of those submissions.

Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on his soul and shows to people those secrets which are common to all.

Leo Tolstoy

The reason I create is to express the day-to-day inner tensions I experience living in a world that has lost its sense of a firm foundation for existence. The true purpose of art, poetry and philosophy is to make sense of a world that seems to be descending deeper into a pit of nothing, filling up with all these Nothings that used to be Somethings. I create when the pressures of life have lifted for long enough that I can sit still and focus on Everything in order to make Something out of it. This is why I hate deadlines. They sit you down at a desk with a pen and paper and demand something out of you in two weeks’ time, making you feel as if you ought to be bound in a straitjacket. An artist’s creative process is set apart from everything else, from all the obligations that are part of being an independent member of a larger community. To me, deadlines are the purest antonym to Selah, imposing a timeframe on the artist in which to create. I want to stop, be still, and in that stillness say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

- Sam Hindmarsh

Sometimes I hear people say that making art is a difficult, impossible thing. They talk about it as if making art were some sort of ancient, forbidden practice, or some kind of impossible puzzle left behind to us by aliens from another galaxy. Well, obviously, this isn’t true, since we’ve made art before. So what is art? Well, to be totally honest, I don’t think there’s a fixed definition. Art is whatever we want art to be. For example, take this article I’m writing right now. I personally don’t think it’s a terrible article, but even now I have a niggling doubt in my mind that every letter I type is only serving to offend and bore whoever may be reading this. But part of me keeps writing because I know that there’s a chance that it’s helping someone, somewhere to get a better grasp on what art is. Is this an art? Only if you think it is.

- Joshua Koo

I don’t really know what art is. I believe it to be rough hands and a painted soul with colors of every shade imaginable — that’s if you’re a painter, though. A writer has every word humanly possible scribbled onto a piece of paper at three in the morning, into the endless number of notebooks that you find so difficult to fill, but go through like a newborn goes through bottles of milk — you suckle on the endless string of thoughts in your mind, spilling them out on the blank page before you that you’ve stared at for hours on end until that one word sparked a frenzy of inspiration and hope inside of you, that maybe, just maybe you will finish this piece before the sun rises but we both know that won’t happen. Art is — I don’t know, a splash of memory on a Word document that your mind vomited out in a ghastly shade of yellow, but that the people around you for some odd reason think is beautiful. Art is small hands with permanent paint stains and infinite pleasure in creating something —  anything — and hoping that that something, that anything, would someday change someone.

- Emily Diggle

Everyone has had an artist inside. Perhaps a few are long gone, but no matter how long ago it was since that artist has thrived, it existed, it was real, running through each person’s veins back into their heart and out as beauty and life. But an artist, a true artist — a person whose entire being is dedicated to truth — is fearless, but terrified. They inhale the universe and exhale its secrets, filling their souls with reality so thick it’s hard to swallow. It isn’t my place to call myself an artist. When I’m afraid, I hide and I walk away in the face of lies. I inhale my own fear and exhale apologies, coating them in sugar so their edges don’t hurt. Perhaps one day if I don’t get lost in cubicles, forgetting my artist under a pile of bills and pay stubs, humming a quiet tune of loneliness and boredom, when I can shriek from the hills despite fear of failure, I will call myself an artist.

- Carmina Bolinao

One dull Thursday, the grade seven class sits with bored expressions as the teacher rambles about either French, math or social studies. Some students are asleep and few are paying attention to the teacher. Most stare out the window, waiting for the dismissal bell. One girl is hunched over her desk, her pencil flying across a lined piece of paper. She’s not taking notes as the teacher believes she is; instead, she is weaving together a marvelous story — a fantasy, with angels, magic, love and expensive jewelry. She is writing a novel — the first draft anyway. The girl is exceptionally bright, and after understanding the day’s lesson, she dives into her story. She doesn’t need an outline, a flowchart or a guide of some kind to help the story along. She writes as she feels, letting the ideas spurt up from a fountain of creativity usually chained away during science class. If she is stuck or indecisive, she turns to a friend for assistance, then keeps barreling along. Three months, 44 pages and several pencils later, the story is done. She is proud of her story — her masterpiece, her work of art. It is raw, rugged and in desperate need of rewriting, but it is the base of the pyramid. While I may not always have time, I will slowly build it up, block by block, word by word, until it is my true, polished masterpiece — my work of art that started one Thursday when I was in grade seven.

- Sarah vander Ende

Gifts are shy, bashful, snuggled in the dustiest corner or in the cracks of broken walls. They cower behind you like a small child afraid to take one step further from its mother’s shadow. Gifts desire to return to childhood romanticism, free to run in open pastures, dancing and twirling underneath stars, when imagination had no boundaries or rules. It bent and swayed with the winds of passion. But the attempt to reunite dream and reality was torn, and trust was lost. Fear took control and the fence was built, rules made, winds stopped. Gifts were enslaved and shackled. Only one remedy exists that breaks fear’s bondage: to harbor a deep, foolish love and to rekindle the flame of delightful hope once more to inspire your joy. So create something — anything. Start with a single stroke, or one note to spark a long-deserved revolution of the soul; dance in this romance once more. Fear will be lost, gifts will be enticed to emerge as we become who we are meant to be.

- Stephanie Tammpere

Art has this ability to make the artist lose control — to throw you in and take this leap of faith with the hope that maybe someone will understand what you are trying to say through the piece you are presenting. Even treasuring thoughts or pieces in a journal or art book is an attempt to make sense of it yourself. I myself wish I had kept more journals and I wish I could have kept a journal with me at all times, like I do now, to write down ideas and thoughts and maybe turn them into something worth reading, other than the words being trapped inside my head, soon forgotten. I would write a book of poems like Lang Leav’s Love, a Misadventure — a book that would make people think and dig up memories they refuse to remember. In order to shake up their souls, though, I would have to turn up the dirt in my own, to feel what I want them to feel. And this is what keeps me from pursuing writing as a career. There are galaxies in my head that even I cannot understand and it’s difficult to share that with someone else, although I do feel better after I spill out my thoughts onto a page. Out into the universe it goes, inspiring me. I do have my inspirations as well, my muses — people who inspire me to write when I have a conversation with them or when we make eye contact. There is one person in my life who, whenever I see them or make any sort of contact with them, lights creative fuse and I have to write about what is happening in my head — a ticking time bomb of muffled thoughts that this specific person makes me want to sort out. Most of the time it is thoughts of them, but either way it pushes my brain into overdrive and my heart feels as if it is in my hands. I cannot control it.

- Ashleigh Yzerman

I align my paints perfectly, from vermillion to violet, exactly how they should be. My brushes are even more neat, with finer bristles closer to me and thicker bristles moving away. My canvas is pristine, a crisp white, unprepared for what is about to happen. I pull out an old palette, with memories of paintings past stained onto it, and sit down in front of the stark white canvas. The paints swirl and mix, like participants in a waltz. The pigments gracefully intertwine, developing into even more interesting colors. Colors that no one had ever thought of before. I splatter and swipe tints across, polluting the flawlessness of the page. Beauty comes in to being; color creates a scene. Ambience makes an audience, people to enjoy and experience. The joy I had is out there for all. No longer are my visions residing in my head, they’re living in yours, too.

- Madi Doell

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