Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A.E.'s Wisdom of Heartbreak

ART: Sarah Ost (, May 16, 2011); Wisdom Quarterly
Artist Alicia Escott’s intensely humane explorations of loss, longing, commercialism and, ultimately, love (
“The best way I can express this is that I have lost enough hope to find a new hope.” San Francisco-based artist Alicia Escott tells EcoSalon this over coffee at The Summit, a popular cafe in the Mission District.
She is talking frankly, not philosophically, with Sarah Ost about pragmatic challenges of creativity and environmental issues, specifically, how one can retain any sort of optimism, much less focus, in the face of the enormous ecological challenges we face. (There have been six great “die offs”; we are poised for another.)

“I heard an environmentalist being interviewed once,” she is saying. “The journalist asked him how he was okay with eating meat or some other destructive behavior. He answered, something like, ‘You know, you wake up in the morning, you take a shower then you walk around the corner to get coffee. It’s 9:00 a.m. and you have already walked over a mountain of skulls.’”

A trip to the corner coffee addicts' den for a morning fix (WQ)

...But to describe her as an environmental artist or to view her work as somehow ironic is to miss the point.
“My approach is one of a thoughtful person, not only as an environmentalist, activist, or green advocate,” Escott says. “I am very hesitant about labels. I think we are making mistakes, and I have a lot of pain around these issues…but it’s really not for me to say. Us poisoning our oceans may return us, simply, to a primordial soup. Perhaps something better can come out of it. So my approach is holistic.”
There are eternal, contextually unsettling and shamanistic themes in Escott’s work. ...
“Then came rock n roll. More than anything I wish I could show you rock n roll, you would love it, I’m sure. And there was the telephone, and then answering machines and call waiting and then caller id, and now you can have that with you always....”
My notebook contains this list of words I jotted down before meeting with Escott, and I share them with her.

Bereft, Buddhist, Longing, Acceptance, Human, Lonely, Heartbreak, Healing
I ask if the Buddhist tendency is intentional. I’m the first writer to do so, and she considers it for a long moment. More

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