Living, Breathing Art

Contributor ~ Amanda Zober

You can find beauty in anything, art in the unlikeliest places; you can find inspiration to create anywhere you are, as long as you look for it. It can set you free, raise you higher than you’ve ever been before if you let it. With practice and passion you can turn your own life into your most valued and perfect work of art.

Music is your escape. You work to find the beat and rhythm in even the most mundane of tasks. It helps to calm the frantic beating of your heart; makes the chaotic mess of thoughts in your mind still, even if it’s for just one short moment, just enough for you to think clearly.

It took you a long time to get here, to be in this place in your life where you can truly say that you know who you are and you know what you’re doing with your life. There’s a list of reasons hiding somewhere in your past that once made you believe that you would never make it to this point in your life. There were people at every turn telling you that you would fail. There is a part of you that takes pride in the fact that you didn’t let their negativity get you; instead of resigning yourself to defeat, you used their hateful words to steel your resolve and turned it into motivation to prove them wrong.

Looking back, it makes you proud that you can say that you worked hard and earned your place in this world. While you aren’t in the forefront of the public eye, people still know your work; it’s anonymous, yes, but there are still people who are trying to emulate you. You take it as a compliment of the highest honor, after all imitation is the highest form of flattery.

If asked, you wouldn’t truly be able to define the type of artist that you are. There is no one specific skill set that you’ve honed to perfection. If pressed, you’d have to say you were a type of mixed media artist. There is music you compose while creating your art that no one will hear when they finally see the completed piece. What the news will eventually talk about is the paintings and sculptures that make up the finished product that is your creation.

You’ve traveled all over the world as discreetly as possible to leave your artwork in hidden alcoves, old parks, buildings scheduled for demolition, trying to leave something beautiful in places that people have long since abandoned. It gives you a sense of joy and happiness when someone stumbles across all your hard work and people come from all over to cover it as a semi-important new piece. It’s become something of a guessing game among the who’s who of the art world, and media at large to figure out who this mysterious artist is that has left magnificently detailed portraits and sculptures all over the world without having been caught yet.

There are still those neigh-sayers that are claiming your work to be vandalism; you just believe that they don’t quite know what art truly is. You’re trying to take the places that the world has forgotten and abandoned, and doing your hardest to make them into something again, something that people will flock to and talk about for generations to come. You’d say it could be considered street art in it’s finest form, but you wouldn’t like to give yourself a big head; cockiness would lead to you being found out, and you like being anonymous.

You like the idea of people judging and appreciating your art for exactly what it is, and not on who you are. Growing up where you did, and sitting on the edges of the more popular social groups, you know that people buy into the person selling the ideas and art more so than the art itself. That isn’t something you wanted. You didn’t want to become the brand that sold your work, you wanted your work to stand on it’s own and sell itself. You think you’ve done a pretty good job of that. With no one knowing who the artist is, all they can buy into is your art itself.

When you need to get inspiration for a new piece, you like to volunteer at community centers in whatever city you happen to be in at the time. You’ll pick up odd jobs at local dives, meeting the regulars and paying your way while teaching little kids about art. It’s a modest living, but you’re content with it. It’s a life free of obligations and demands.

When you do finally get an idea for what you’re next piece is going to be, you’ll ask for help from some of the older high school kids that you work with at the community center, and from some of the rough and tumble regulars from whatever place you’re currently working at. You try to find the more unsavory locals, the high school bullies, the angry old drunks, and short tempered women; you want to take these people who have such a hard time showing kindness to others, and show them how beautiful the world can be when you open your hearts to art. You want to be the one to make a difference for them, to change their views on the world. You put your faith in them to keep our identity a secret and so far no one has let you down in the decades you’ve been doing this.

You’re current piece has some great volunteers helping you. They are parolees and their probation officers thought it would be good for them to take classes at the center. They all seem to harbor a great deal of vitriol, and you know that both of them just want to see the world burn down around them. You’re hoping you can change that, even if they don’t seem to think all that much of you. Currently you have one of them sprawled out across a bench that seems to be decomposing in some areas.

You’re at a park a few miles out of the city; it’s been abandoned for more than a decade and the locals believe that it’s haunted. Most people don’t come here, but you know some curious teenager will investigate it sometime in the near future, like all teens do with local legends. They will discover your art and soon this poor old place won’t be so abandoned any more.

There is an old swing set that you want to be the focal point of this piece. You are thinking about modeling it after Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. It has taken some time, but you have figured out the logistics on how to make it work. You already have the stuffed arms and legs made, you just have to set up the torso so it hangs right on the old steal frame of the swing; after that. it’s just a matter of sewing the plush limbs onto where you need them to be.

You are covered in the thick paint you used to color the main body. It makes it a little harder to get the torso hung up right, with your hands covered in the slick sticky liquid. You’ve had to use fishing line to hold the head and the first set of arms into place. The first set of legs is perfect to be hanging straight down the way they are. Sewing on the second set of arms takes work. They are heavier than you’d anticipated, but you cut the seams on the shoulders so perfectly that it doesn’t take you too much longer than you anticipated to graft them onto the body. The second set of legs is easy after you got the hang of the arms.

Stepping back, the completed body looks better than you could have imagined when starting. The lines of the extra limbs flow seamlessly into the rest of the body. You couldn’t be prouder of how it looks, and now you just have to finish the cleanup and set up for the soon to be audience. Even though you won’t be around when they discover it, you still want to make sure people have a decent place to admire it.

You go to the bench your first volunteer as laying on. He’d had a rough day and was currently resting. Not wanting to disturb him, you gently try to clean away most of the paint he ended up covered in. He got a little messier than you’re used to but he’s also a lot more rough around the edges than your usual volunteers. You carefully set his limbs up on the bench so he’s more comfortable; you don’t want him to put unnecessary strain onto his body. Once that’s taken care of, you pack the rest of your supplies into your truck. There is a small lake next to the park that you decide to use to clean off the rest of the paint covering your body. You don’t want any of it to stain the inside of your truck; that would be a lot more work to clean it up later.

After you’re as clean as you’re going to get, you drive back to the motel you’ve been staying at. You don’t feel too bad about leaving your volunteers at the park. They had their own cars. This is the part where you get everything packed up and drift out of town like you were never there. By the time the sculpture is discovered no one will remember who you were, and your anonymous streak will continue.

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Setting up in a new town, in a new country, you turn on the news to see your last sculpture had been discovered. The buzz on this one is the biggest yet. People are speechless and impressed by how well all the pieces fit together, and how perfectly it’s suspended between the bars of the swing set. Smiling, you reflect on the concerto you composed during the creation of that piece.

It was beautiful and heart breaking in how well the cries of your volunteers blended into the natural sounds of the wildlife surrounding you. Their gasping breaths as the life slowly faded out of them left you with chills, that you knew would just build up the suspense to the climax of your song. The buzzing of the saw thrummed through your veins as you removed the limbs from the shorter one. The cuts are made with a clean precision that has taken you years to master. His blood comes out faster and thicker than you’re normal volunteers. It paints everything a dark crimson that would look absolutely stunning on the main body.

Once you had the limbs, you had set him on the bench to rest until you need him again. The blood from his arms painted the main body perfectly as you attached them to here you needed them to be. It dripped down the torso in perfect rivulets. It was easier than you assumed it would be. The tricky part came with grafting to plush limbs onto the first volunteer. Fabric doesn’t blend as seamlessly into flesh as other flesh does. It took some careful arranging of clothes to cover the stitching so it wouldn’t be as conspicuous.

Once more the world was in awe of your art. No one could figure out how you did it, or who could be capable of such a masterpiece. You know you are now at the height of your career; everyone will be trying to figure out who you are. It was time to plan your biggest masterpiece; the greatest one to complete all you’ve accomplished. It will be your last major work, and then you’ll retire from the spotlight; leave them wanting more. Your greatest work will be your grand finale. With that in mind, you know you’re going to need a lot more volunteers to help you complete it. You think fifteen should work.

You turn off the tv; you have a masterpiece to plan.

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