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personal philosophy 2004




Joseph Kinnebrew

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Artist's Statement

August 1998

Sun Valley Idaho

Art is not a representative icon, but a metaphorical and symbolic expression of our existence.  It is an aspect of living not an act of observation.  Art is at least a product of its own time and is, at its very best, forward looking.  It is capable of reflecting life in the present, and sometimes, future moment.

Artistic expression employs the mother tongue of metaphor.  Long ago humans devised metaphor as a means to coexist with things not specifically understood by them.  The purpose of metaphor is the same today.  It flows naturally from the rational brain and emotional soul and is a singular product of human evolution.  Art is, as Robert Henri said, “a spirit.”  Accordingly, my creative spirit is a metaphor derived of my past, existing momentarily in the present and finally embracing the future.  This is how art functions for me.

I prefer to express myself with metaphors and symbols.  In comparison, words, to me, seem laborious and generally inadequate.  If a picture is worth a thousand words then a symbol is worth a thousand pictures.  Consider, for example, this passage from Lewis

Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, “’The time has come,’ the Walrus said, ‘to speak of many things, candlesticks and sealing wax and cabbages and kings…’.”  To not accept this passage as embedded with metaphor is to overlook what useful and coherent image is gained from this experience.  Hence, a discussion of metaphor and symbol might seem circular and nonsensical to those who cannot simultaneously grasp or appreciate the surreal lunacy and wisdom of Carroll.

Some believe we live in a time of unique confusion causing us to despair and become seduced by nostalgia.  But nostalgia is a dangerous mistress.  The consequences of a Faustian bargain should be clear to us, yet the thoughts and actions of extremists suggest we still have not learned to accept the reality of the future.  We simply cannot go backward.  Progress is inevitable, irreversible and in its essence very easy to understand and accept if we are really honest about the circumstances of life.  Because we are permitted limited management of such issues the real question becomes what will be the nature, the intrinsic quality, of this progress.

We do not have to be harbingers of vast or specific knowledge to survive the complex and transient present.  We must knowingly concede to live in a present defined by what is past and what is future.  By altering the perception of our relationship to time, we will retain and cherish artifacts of our existence of greater value and discard those that no longer have any relevance or significance.  As an artist, I do not negotiate this new vision of reality.  Instead, my challenge is to embrace it and be receptive to it in every way possible.  My art is a reflection of what I learn and what I feel.  It is the essence of me, necessarily subjective, and I could never suggest otherwise.  Art is my witness.

Ultimately, I wish for a more consilient vision of us as human beings and of the world and universe in which we live.  In this mind set, I strive to see and create beyond the horizon – an effort similar to Columbus’ but in a different time and different place.