Cultivating meanings that are already there

“The artist role is not to generate meaning, but to cultivate the meanings that are already there.”

Author, Cal Newport shares this idea in the book Deep Work, while making a compelling argument for relevance of focused concentration over scattered multi-tasking. 

What I found interesting as it relates to art, Cal Newport makes the connection between an artist concentrated mindset, the ability to get into a flow quickly and how it correlates with the qualities of the artwork.

Photogram artist, Richard Slechta at his worktable

I wonder if this is one of the reasons some artists artworks appeal to me and others do not?   A work of art regardless of it’s visual make-up, can hold a manifestation of deeply concentrated flow.  What comes to mind for me is not a visible technique, but a sense of focused intention that becomes a manifestation.  I see this depth and meaning in some of the artists I admire: Sarah Sze, Ryoji Ikeda and Pierre Soulages.

If we think of Deep Work as Newport further summarizes, ‘as focused blocks of time that allow our minds to enter a state of flow.  Flow orders consciousness, generates happiness and gives deep satisfaction by disrupting the unstructured life and scattered focus.’

This probably resonates with you as well.  I see my best photograms arise when I’m deeply focused.  If I’ve done my job well, you won’t see that sensibility waver. 

Photogram artist, Richard Slechta painting in the studio