Art as Intimacy

By Jennifer Ferraro

F or me art, whether poetry, painting or dancing, has always been driven, above all, by the desire to be seen and known—to not be an anonymous heart and being in the universe; rather to know that one is ever in the warm embrace of intimacy. Longing is the mother of intimacy, in that it is actually the sign that we are loved. Longing is the sign of our remembrance of being loved. This is not just a romantic urge or psychological impetus toward the mother and the womb… This longing is the proof that the heart is still innocent enough to sense that Reality is more than the shallow external images we are constantly pressured to believe in; That the purpose of our lives amounts to more than the myriad goals we set for ourselves, or that we should be content with building a secure, insulated, predictable outer existence.

Beauty is where the infinite becomes intimate.
~ John O'DonohuePoetry responds to my longing for a more authentic, real connection to life and enacts a greater intimacy with it. It comes from the paradox of intimacy and distance that we inherit as human beings. Intimacy is about truly seeing and being seen. To be seen is to be held in the embrace of vastness, to bring the cold vast stars and moon down into one’s face. Lovers can help us if they see and reflect us to ourselves—but what if they do not see us, or only see a partial view (which is most often the case)? What if they only reflect back the rejected or shadowy aspects of ourselves? Those we love and who love us must do this for us—but so often they will fail to provide what is truly sought for. The intimacy we seek encompasses the intimacy we find with those we love, but it cannot be contained in our human relations. Each friend or lover can only hold a given amount of who we are, can only reflect back so much. If we take their reflection as truth, we get a limited picture of who we really are. Even taking our own ideas and thoughts to be who we are is limited. We so seldom can see ourselves, our full potential as human beings.

The infinitude we hold in our finite lives is stunning—a wake up call we are called to answer. The Beloved we want to meet in loving embrace, with our realest, truest being, is the Universe itself. But we cannot love what we cannot see and relate with. Therefore we most often succeed in loving what is humanly imaged and imagined—and in another’s eyes which soften looking at us, in that communion which may or may not have words, we harvest the fruit of being human. We learn what a gift and a mystery it is to be a human heart, so tender and deep, so responsive and vast.

The gift of the artist is that the artist visits that place of communion in her own being–follows the path of longing inward toward a place of intimate conversing—where separation and union are constantly playing around each other, dancing whispering, advancing and retreating. Longing says, “Come here” and Union answers, “No—sing to me from over there—the sound of your voice thrills me.” The poet, for instance, might become a mystic in that moment of creative surrender where the poem is born. BUT for most poets, their destiny and calling is to linger at the ledge where silence births the word. To follow the path of silence to the Source of silence is not the path of the poet—that is the path of the mystic. The poet is created by the universe to be the mouthpiece, to dip into the real, the sublime, the beautiful, the tender, and in a fruitful over-spilling to speak – to share in language what silence worked within her soul. The impression of experience thus becomes transmission through the art of the poet, and our mysterious human existence is seen to be communal and luminous, mysterious, terrible and beautiful – in other words, utterly sacred and transparently divine.

©Jennifer Ferraro, 2007- All rights reserved.

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