Will South • 36” x 36” • Oil on Canvas

Will South
36” x 36” • Oil on Canvas

Making art reminds me what a grain of sand—or less—I really am. Brush in hand, there’s this idea I should be going somewhere, that is, creating something. If working to get somewhere, anywhere, it sure would be nice to have a compass. Instead, there’s this knowledge that others have done all of this before and that I make art because others before me made it, here on this planet that is so impossibly inscrutable. I can ask myself: Well, what did all these past people achieve? A safer, more beautiful world, or one more cluttered with self-interest? It’s an impossible situation, standing before a canvas because I feel the grim weight of history, and, at the same time, feel the ongoing indifference of a universe so large that it, too, is impossible. Anything I could do in that moment of “now” feels miniscule or worse—unnecessary. And yet, somehow—I have no idea why—holding that brush feels like holding a lifeline, that I’m hanging on to something that matters, that someone is on the other end of this line, pulling me on. In that moment, I’m participating in something, putting in my tiniest of tiny two cents. I know we’re small, me and this canvas. But, for better and worse, we were part of it all, even if for just that moment. In the most infinitesimal of ways, painting feels like I touched the universe, and maybe that is the most one can do.

Inspired by the artwork of, and a conversation with, Will South

A Bright, Shining Void
by Robert LeHeup

When time was new,
and you were, too,
I looked down upon you and smiled
You’d grow up wise
through each other’s eyes,
and a village could all raise a child.

There was good luck and bad,
but hope could be had,
between the raindrops and rays.
Where time was your friend
in spite of the end,
but then white turned to black through the greys.

As the shadows grew longer
and your greed grew stronger,
you created your blackpowder dreams.
My smile slowly faded
while you became jaded
and hope tore apart at the seams.

Now you guilty fools
using your violent tools
to knock down those around you,
Have little cause
to call on your laws
when your karmic fate has found you.

As shadows fall closed
And you’re in the throws
Of reconciling your fate
My pity will falter,
your hope on the altar,
your prayers will have come too late.

And when you look up and plead
until your throat bleeds,
a vestigial form of violence,
I will turn down my face,
and devoid of grace,
my only response will be silence.