Art and Immortality

“The Abbey In The Oakwood” by Caspar David Friedrich 1810

My grandfather passed away last weekend. He lived to the rip age of 97 and with that many years under his belt, I can’t say that I’m too sad about his passing. He lived a good and prosperous life. He’s gone on to be with my grandmother to whom he was married for 50 years before she left this plane of existence. They both leave behind what could constitute as a small village of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s a sight of organized chaos when we all get together but we’re the living legacy of two beautiful people that I am proud to be a descendent.

Of all the grandchildren, I am one of the few who doesn’t have children of their own. This was a consciousness decision on my part that I have no regret in making but with my grandfather’s passing it has got me to thinking about my own legacy. While the memories and wisdom of my grandparents will carry on in those of us left behind, what will carry on of me when I am deceased? Initially I thought of art but not of my own but rather that of a few of my favorite painters, such as Casper David Friedrich. Obviously his work isn’t mine to claim a legacy to but I thought of him because he’s paintings have always been a symbol of solemn peace to me. There’s something about his work that makes me just…chill. But this artist, who I know no more about than what’s on Wikipedia and in the one art history book I’ve held on to since college, lived 177 years ago. That’s almost two centuries into the past. Yet he is still leaving impressions on people’s lives today. The thought of that made me realize that the things we create, whether it be paintings, drawings, poetry, stories or pottery, isn’t just our own legacy, it is also our own way of being immortal. Long after we are gone, a piece of us still lives on. It maybe some work that gets lost and then found again, something someone passes down through their family or something that many hold on to from a time now past, we still live on. 

I am fortunate enough to have created something that others have found enough pleasure in to make their own. I can not track the journey of the art I create once it leaves my hands but I find contentment in the thought that somewhere a piece of me will still live on. Somewhere, I am immortal.

Rest in peace grandma and grandpa. 

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