Art is an amazing discipline which not only changes the way you look at the world and the very way you think, but also allows you to see how others view the world. Today I received a response to my previous post, The Human Grotesque, from one of the artists I mention, Khalik Allah. With his permission I have printed it here. It was awesome to hear from Khalik, my brother in art.
Brother, what do you think?
Were you able to answer the very question that you posed to your children?
The attracting of guilt is an anchor – mercilessly binding us to a world of pain. See no guilt, for sight of one thing will cost you vision of another.
Wouldn’t you recognize innocence in guilt’s place?
My work is an extension of God, yet I see how it can be misinterpreted, and thus I cannot be angry with you.
The law of perception follows as thus: First you look inside, decide what you want to see, and then project it outward. If you see a guilty world you are making guilt real to yourself and obscuring the vision of truth. The moment you judge reality it has slipped away.
Everything that you see you are first seeing in yourself. Therefore love and mercy and forgiveness are needed to heal our perceptions, and yet perception will always be limited. It is always a point of view rather than an awareness of the total unity.
I thank you for sharing my work with your children. And I extend myself to you as a brother.
Peace, Khalik Allah
Thank you for taking the time to write to me! I enjoy your response and as you say, as artists our work can be misinterpreted by the viewer. As you also say, often this tells us more about the viewer than the artist because each viewer recreates the art work from their point of view and experience. This is the moment that all artists face when they have to let their work go and it becomes the world’s. Very few people are aware of the great courage this takes because as an artist you expose your soul in your work, it is not just a photograph or a painting or a sculpture.
My name is Andrew and I create art under my artist’s name: swany. I am a mentor lecturer in South Africa and the students I was addressing are studying towards a visual arts degree. As I said to my students, they need to analyse and critique the work themselves and answer the questions it asks of them, so this was an exercise in developing analytical skills. As I said I find your work very powerful and your use of existing light sources to photograph your subjects is exciting. I do worry though that these people are perhaps playing to your camera and that they themselves are perpetuating stereotypes such thug-life, drug and alcohol culture etc. In saying that, I accept that this is not your intention and that you are documenting life on the street.
Would it be OK for me to include your response in a blog on my artist site? I think it would be awesome that people could hear what you have to say.
Peace brother, yes it is ok to include my response.
I appreciate your thoughtful response.
Nothing but love and respect to you!
Above: Mendieta – Hard Times swany (from the Gaze exhibition 2012)