Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 95: Napkin Artwork

OYLPA Day 95: Napkin Artwork, originally uploaded by klodhie.

Someone happened to find this napkin at Starbucks and pinned it up I'm assuming. I couldn't help but take a picture of the incredibly detailed sketch. Just looking at this bit of napkin artwork immediately transported me to tales of 18th century pirates, hidden treasures in the deep blue sea, sweeping, adventurous music, and reminded me of Coleridge's eerie poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

What kinds of incredible artwork go unnoticed everyday, I wonder? Whose handiwork goes without praise? I think of all those superbly talented artists, musicians, and the like in Pakistan who I've seen create cultural gems with the natural elements around them, but who receive no "exhibitions" of their art and music. I wonder how important art (and music, literature, etc.) is to the development and progression of a nation? I've seen some appreciation of music within Pakistan, such as with the show "Coke Studio" (a fantastic endeavor involving multiple Pakistani artists recording live music together). I've also seen fashion designers gain quite a ridiculous amount of fame and fortune for their "trendy" work.

Yet I STILL have not seen a large-scale appreciation for the women and men who spend hours and hours of their own labor creating magnificent carpets and rugs, or those who weave intricate baskets or use watercolors, oils, and other mediums to paint peaceful or haunting or majestic images of their lives, their environment, their imagination, and Pakistan as they see it. Sure, I've seen a couple pieces paraded around as singular examples of "folk Pakistan" during ritzy over-the-top Los Angeles fundraisers. Someone or another buys them during an auction, and then those pieces disappear. There are a few who attempt to display such art in rare exhibitions, but these events, too, somehow end up becoming all about some hazy idea of what "trendy" is amongst Pakistani-Americans.

What I yearn to see happen is artwork becoming a source of pride and strength for a nation and people needing much of both. A relatively new nation, Pakistan desperately needs to learn to appreciate its hidden artists who are the backbone of its culture. We are, as a people, far far too engrossed in our individual selves - there is too much of the "what can I do to increase my place and name in society." An appreciation of local art, music, dance, film, etc. (in addition to a push for increased involvement in team sports that states and provinces and cities within Pakistan can be excited for and proud of) is an indispensable element in Pakistan's struggle for stability.

The intricate sketch of a ship on a recycled napkin gives me hope. It is a reminder that art cannot be stopped. An artist will always, always create wherever, whenever, and however (s)he can - not for any sort of monetary reward or chance at fame, but simply because an artist MUST instinctively CREATE. So, I have no worry that those hidden artists in Pakistan will continue their art. Someday, someone will pick up their work and proudly and admiringly display it as someone did this little napkin sketch.

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