In doing research for #VenusOnMars, I came across Hilma af Klint, a Swedish abstract painter from the turn of the twentieth century. She was making groundbreaking abstract art years before more famous artists like Kandinsky and Mondrian. Through a unique geometric visual language, she channeled images that came through her. In her lifetime, she never exhibited these pieces; she supported herself financially through works of a more conventional painting style.
Upon her death, she left behind over a thousand works. Af Klint made an unusual stipulation: that her works were to be kept secret for twenty years thereafter. Why? Back to the theme of chronos and kairos: because the world wasn’t ready for them yet.
Zooming out, she saw her place in the fabric of history. In her story, I see a deep sense of trust: She didn’t wait for it to all make sense for her to begin. The captain of the vessel both guides the ship and surrenders control to the sea. Feeling the vastness between each day and eternity, comparison falls away. To me, af Klint stood by her truth. The rest was out of her hands.
Her story made me wonder: “What if my purpose in this life is simply to fill an entire shipping container?”
That shipping container could be physical, digital, or metaphorical. I could fill it with writing, paintings, sculptures, performances, businesses, nonprofits, teams, a family–any kind of creative endeavor.
What would it be like to fill this cavernous volume over the next few decades? With such an expansive prompt, what becomes possible?
Af Klint’s work began to be exhibited in 1986, over forty years after her passing. Her first major solo exhibition in the US is coming up in the fall at the Guggenheim in NYC.
After all, they say, “Real artists ship.” What will you put in your shipping container?