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Word Art: Fire

I was told about the Doo-Nanny by Chris Hubbard, and figured at the very least I’d come back with some good stories to tell, so I went.  I did indeed come back with some good stories to tell, including the probably-more-epic-than-it-really-needs-to-be tale of how I managed to get a pair of Converse high-tops for two dollars, final bid, at the Possum Trot auction.

The Doo-Nanny, for those too lazy to click the link, is a festival of art, music, film and general craziness that is currently held on an 80-acre farm owned by one Butch Anthony, who is a folk artist, curator of the Alabama Museum of Wonder and perpetual wearer of overalls.  I described it to people as a sort of Southern-fried Burning Man.

I had a table set up there, and while I didn’t sell much, I got to meet all kinds of people who peered at my art and found it fascinating.  At one point, two ladies came up and asked me if I’d like to donate some art to burn in the Doo-Nanny.  The Doo-Nanny itself is a two-story bonfire that is ignited on Saturday night.  People drop things in there they are ready to let go of and they even auction off the opportunity to have a multi-course meal inside the Doo-Nanny a little while before it is burned.

I looked over my art table to see if there was something I was willing to abandon, but I decided instead to pull out a piece of paper I had handy and make something on the spot.



A flame fascinates as it burns to its conclusion.

We seek heat and light as we draw around it.

A flame terrifies as it burns without limits.

We beat it back if it goes beyond the boundaries we have set for it.

The fires of our hearts are always seeking a container to be kept in, whether as small a a candle flame or as massive as a bonfire.

And each fire contained so has the potential to ignite the heart of another into a fire of its own.

And so the flames are carried to hearts ignited, like the flames of candles at an Easter service, a lighting from one to the next to amplify a single candle’s flame to enough light to fill a cathedral.

Perhaps art movements should properly be called art conflagrations.

The blazing fires of genius are the kind to catch, to transform everything in its path into something quite different, quite different from what it was.

Here is a secret that we all know.

That creation and destruction are not absolutes.

They are value judgements applied to the process of change.

When a thing is changed into something we deem useful, we call it creation.

When the process of change results in something we have no use for, we call it destruction.

Each stroke of the pen obliterates the purity of the unblemished virginity of the blank sheet of paper.

The fires of the kiln strip all softness from the clay of a pot.

Every note of music, temporarily, it pushes aside the silence.

(And yet every moment of silence allows the music to be heard.)

Fire creates.  Fire destroys.  Fire transforms.

A new creation cannot exist without the destruction of that which came before it.

(Sometimes the one thing that holds us back from creating something new is the fear of what we may lose when we render it into being.)

One day all of this will be ashes.

Whether it’s when the trumpets blast from the heavens and God calls us all home or when the sun flares up in its final collapse, that which stands here will stand no more.

It is a rather terrifying thought for one to contemplate.

And yet it is a liberating one.

Against the length of eternity, we are as candle flames.

And yet how brightly we shine.

This moment flickers, gives off heat and light and then fades into darkness.

Keep it in your heart.

Tend to it.

And use it to light a new creation.

I typed all the words into a note on my iPhone so they wouldn’t be lost, and took a photograph to remember it by.  I didn’t have a frame handy, so I picked some thin twigs off the ground and improvised one.

A thing to be destroyed

Fire: Framed

I’d had it in my head that I would read the words on stage before dropping it in the Doo-Nanny, but the comedy of errors that went into getting the thing inside there was as much craziness as I could handle.  (Another long story.  Ask me and I’ll tell it to you sometime.)

Prints of this work are not available.

The original has been destroyed.

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