“I’ve given my whole life to being an artist, every ounce, so that there’s nothing left. Now I need something else, but I’m emptied out,” (Crow, April 2013). This was said by artist Mike Kelley to his friend and art historian, John Welchman, shortly before Kelley committed suicide at the height of his art career. Kelley was reflecting on his earlier decision to not marry or have children, but instead to live life fully as an artist. It’s a troubling statement, not surprisingly, of course, given the context.
This piece I’ve been working on, “The Battle Between Love and Love” has something to do with that tug-of-war. On one side is the love and commitment to caring for family: children, spouse, parents, and deep friendships, that bring so much meaning to the lives of many. On the other is a calling to act upon a different love. One that beckons, drives and compels someone to create something greater than themselves. Something that inspires, touches, holds, or carries. Something that gets inside the heads or hearts of persons unknown to the creator, and connects the two of them.
The city planner, Daniel Burnham, who made plans for Washington DC, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Manila, said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” It’s this drive of which I speak.
The creator may be an artist, a composer, a writer, a builder, an organizer. It can be the local head of the PTA, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or, like me, a mother and artist who is always seeking the best ways to do justice to both sides, to provide all the love I can muster, to give my whole life, every ounce, so there is nothing left.
Crow, Kelly. “The Escape Artist.” The Wall Street Journal Magazine. April 2013: 88-95