While Naomi and I were visiting Italy, Don and Mom were in Memphis visiting Graceland, the home of Elvis. It didn't take long for me to realize that essentially it was the same thing, just on different scales. We were on different trips for the same reason: To gain insight into the history of preserved worlds and experience the legacy of legends that existed once upon a time.
From all of my observations throughout the country of Italy, I've learned many things - one of which is for certain: ART LASTS FOREVER. It outlives its creators and continues to live throughout history in the hearts, minds and stories for ages to come; moreso than any monetary value possessed by any country at any time has ever done. Reason being is that no matter what form of art it may be, it is open to interpretation forever and for everyone, which gives it new life and new strength and a reference point in time to the people that once surrounded it. Art opens up questions and answers of thought, romance, wonderment and mystique on many levels.
Take It Personal
It didn't matter where we were - whether the Capella Sistina in Roma (Sistine Chapel in Rome) or the Palazzo Ducale di Venizia (Doge's Palace in Venice), the art always had a story and presented us not only a peek but sometimes an explanation as to why things were the way they were at that specific point in time and place. It provided a history for its people who haven't been around for thousands of years. But not the kind of history you'd read about in a textbook and recite to impress friends. No. Art, when it is up close and in person, is history that is felt. It spills into your senses the emotion, thought, wonder and excitement of a place and time that you probably may never fully understand. But up close and in person, the art brings you right in.
It's a feeling that as a DIY filmmaker makes me feel like crap and like a king. Crap because nowadays contemporary artists, myself included, (and I mean that humbly) can't hold a candle to those of yore - not even close. But at the same time like a king because it tells me that as an artist in my own form of media and place in time, I have the amazing power to do the same, allowing me to empathize on a minute scale with artists of the past. Not for personal wealth or clout - it goes way beyond that - but through the contribution of my small part in potentially keeping the here and now alive forever for my culture.
A Mirror in History
No matter where it was we went, the art was constantly referenced by scholars and historians as bookmarks in history for a people that are long gone. What would've happened if The King never went to Sun Records? What would that have meant for the musicians of today? What if Michelangelo didn't even think twice about his rival Raphael? Would the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel be as passionate and shocking as it is?
Whether it's Michelangelo's David, Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel" or even J.D. Crutch's "Bente Unu", the power of art can live through time, inspire others and help to preserve not only a culture, but a place and time that may otherwise someday become lost - or even worse - forgotten.
photos by Kel Muna and Don Muna 2008