Thursday evening my spouse and I went to the dedication of an art installation at the Regence Building in downtown Portland. It was a dress-up, catered event with good music, wall-to-wall VP's, CEO's, Highly Paid Professionals and a smattering of artistic types. We were part of the smattering.
The art is by our friend Joni Kabana, a brilliant photographer who took photographs of people connected to Regence by threads, and made those threads real through images that resonate, startle and change the viewer. They are larger than life, digital photographs of human beings, who interact with the viewer, revealing humanity, vulnerability, strength and what we, as the viewer, read into them.
Several things were apparent throughout the evening: 1) this was no corporate nod toward art in the workplace, 2) the art was valued as a contribution toward the success of the business, not in terms of making dollars happen, but in keeping focused on why they go to work each day, 3) both the art and artist were valued as intrinsically worthwhile--Joni's vision was selected because she saw into lives and could project them back out in a way that confronted the viewer. It was remarkable.
Phil Harris, a General Studies professor, writer and artist, gave a short speech introducing the work, and Joni. He described the role of artist as seeing what others may or may not see, taking it in, then transforming it in a way that communicates the vision to others, allowing the viewer to share the vision and add individual insight. He also described what I have long believed, that the web of our lives, if we work and wait long enough, weaves an intricate pattern that makes sense and can be powerful. Seemingly disparate experiences can bring us to a place where our weaknesses become strengths, and past sorrows allow compassion or insight we otherwise would not bring.
I am still waiting for my web to become a tapestry; I'll just keep working.