Pleasure in Paint
My friend Catherine sent me this video from The Asian Elephant Art Conservation Project (AEACP). This fascinating non-profit organization raises funds to improve the welfare of currently domesticated Asian elephants and also aims to support projects that protect wild elephant populations.
The unique concept behind this project is centered around the creating and selling of art produced by elephants. I'm not judging our strange desire to value creatures that learn to mimic our actions, but rather in this video I was drawn to that inexplicable connection between the act of painting and an elemental force that may exist in all beings.
When I watched this video for the first time, I was immediately transported back to a conversation in college about an esoteric art theory that has stuck with me. Could the act of painting be our body's remembering? A re-inscribing of that initial nurturing relationship between mother and infant?
When was the last time you really picked up a paint brush and became intimately aware of the pull to press an extension into a surface and pull down? Oh I hope you'll try it soon! Be sure to take a moment and capture that feeling between the impulse and the action, and I guarantee that you will find yourself awakened to something completely new.
I use to enjoy watching my kitty bite into her stuffed bear and knead its belly with her paws. I read somewhere that my cat may have been returning to a comforting memory of nursing as a kitten. What if our desire to paint is no different then returning to a comforting memory of nurturance long past like the action of my cat kneading? And how are we connected to an elephant that is willing to be trained to paint? Could they perhaps feel that same same impulse to return to a place of fundamental origin? Watching this video you can't help but wonder that the elephants and ourselves may share in that moment of sheer pleasure applying paint to a surface without any expectation of originality, but rather just because it feels good.