Batik: A Tradition Looking Forward
Our traditions are our reference points. They differ from habits in that they represent something about us collectively, something good about who we are. They are social rituals that we consciously maintain because they confer meaning. You belong here. You are in this family. You are part of a good thing. Modern life is a siren song that seduces with novelty, outrageousness and glitter. The value it presents to us is that we must stay entertained and distracted. Our traditions on the other hand act to ground us with timeless values from the past. The values that tradition promotes may be less fun and flashy but they speak to elements of our better nature; how to lead with your heart, serve community, and seek beauty.
In a sense the most important artistic tradition is artistic activity itself. As long as there is an active culture of art-making the historical traditions can live and new ones can have a chance to be born. Whether we express ourselves conceptually, abstractly, with representational art or with some hybrid form of all the above we are part of an artistic tradition. And we always express ourselves in relation to that tradition, even as we break from it.
My view of the world emerged during a turbulent and idealistic period of American life. The main lesson I learned then was to look deeper, and to use the heart to try to perceive what is real and true. Like so many others, my wide-eyed idealism suffered some bad erosion in the storm. But I still enjoy kicking down the beach to find what washes up. Scattered everywhere are little gems that tell me this earth is precious, demanding our respect and love.
" I came to batik painting through my love for its magical qualities of obscurity and revelation. The image is developed through repeated dyeings and waxings, gradually becoming almost entirely covered in wax. The finished work is only seen in its entirety at the very end of the process, when the wax is removed and the image revealed."
Visit Cowango for more background on the pieces shown in this article and for more of David's work. Stefanie is also a talented artist and her watercolors are also on the site.