THE SAN CLEMENTE FREE SPIRIT
That January morning, the 12th, I accidentally caught on a TV clip about a prisoner, who started painting in prison. San Clemente – if I am not mistaken. This man, of Mexican descent, incarcerated for something he did in, was in great pain and deep remorse of his actions. Pouring out his pain - and his disappointment from his own mistakes by drawing on the prison wall. In these brief few minutes, the presenter let him speak. He said, that when he draws and paints – he is at peace.e has time to think and look deeper in his soul. He kept drawing on the walls, with (permission of the guards) without having any formal training. His enthusiasm was so contagious, that the other prisoners started supplying him with whatever they can, so he can continue his work. Pencils, crayons.
It was admirable! Watching this human being, who fell prey to circumstances and his to own temper perhaps, and entrapped himself – to elevate himself and rise from the ashes of self-destruction. He found a way to awaken a talent , he did not know he had – and found a noble way to bypass anger and channel it into a whole new level of thinking.
Talk about the transformational quality of Art!
It made me think about imprisonment of the spirit. Imprisonment of the spirit, that has nothing to do with walls – everything to do with the limitations in our minds. Do we imprison our spirit when we surround ourselves with people, whose superficiality is numbing ? Do we imprison our spirit when we distract ourselves with things that have no relevance to the world around us or within us? Do we imprison our minds when we squander valuable time and devote time to exploring limiting belief systems, that impose on us ready-made values, impose on us how to think, how to react -to the point that we become a mere reflection , not a source?
Angel – the imprisoned person with a free spirit – made me think.
The power of this unusual uplifting of a human being still stays with me. The paintings were a pure expression of his pain. The mural was executed in mixed medium – crayons, pencils and acrylics – whatever he finds. (I presume there are no art shops in prison…. ). Not only does he lack the conventional environment of being an artist – not only is he lacking in mental stimulus of his environment by virtue of a formal art education! Yet the little glimmer of opportunity, time and space became his main motivator. After all – he does have the encouragement of the other prisoners and even of the prison guards, who gave him a permission to draw and paint. He needed permission to draw!!!!!
Think about it!
The sheer focus and determination he had! Many of us would try to achieve and sometimes it simply does not work. Could it be that the more freedom and time we have – the less our desire to value it?
Could it be that the very presence of obstacles generates light and power beyond one’s expectations not only to overcome but to excel?
Is it any wonder that some of the greatest creations of art have been created under impossible circumstances. Maybe the obstacles are simply a spark plug that gets the desire to create in a mode, that overrides the trivial, the unimportant and the minutia?
Some of us create, because they love art and have spent time to develop their skills and talents and want to share with the world. We simply breathe and live Art. Others create – because they have an obligation for a project or a commission or a gallery. Lucky ones! And then there are many levels of creativity between the highly skilled professional and the dilletante. But to create in the face of insurmountable obstacles – is probably the highest form of Art. What he lacks in training – complements in inner desire to express and reflect the life-changing experience his life.
Angel – the prisoner – artist , whose spirit is anything but imprisoned. I was hoping I could find some photograph of his work – but none was accessible. What I saw – was a complex composition, a large mural, depicting the events of his life, that lead him to this corner. So, I have no pictures of Angel nor of his murals. Just a deep impression from an accidental TV show about a prison and an incredible human being. And a deep admiration of the human spirit and the transformational power of Art.
Stay inspired, my friends! Stay inspired, despite all odds! Stay inspired – no matter what!
Tsvetana for TheArtChronicle
PS.The photo inset above is by Gerhard Richter.
And the Signature Image below is a Painting by this Author..