At an event at the Jackpot Gallery in Milwaukee last night, where one person came up to a mike to read the first part of a serialized novella, followed by another doing a self-reflective stand-up piece, and a third plugged in her guitar to sing songs she had written.
Listening to them, I was thinking of the way the word “true” is used as a verb in manufacturing—to bring into an exact position, to align—and what we mean when we say something “rings true.” True not in the factual sense, but that it sounds right.
That’s what we do when we make art. We try to create something that rings true. Le Anna seeking to get the emotions right in a break-up song, Sean to be entertaining and still be Sean in doing stand-up, Parker on making characters and setting real enough to engage those listening to his story. And a number of those watching and listening last night in the gallery with their own writing or photography or acting lives— in differing ways they are trying to bring their work into alignment with their vision of what they can create. It’s what I attempt to do in crafting an oral or digital story.
For all who make or aspire to make art, close to the surface or down deep, there is a desire to be recognized, to be applauded. It’s there. However, I do think that the energy and the gnawing to keep working a painting or words on paper or a scene comes from somewhere else, from a need or a yearning to make it ring true.
- Jim Winship