This past couple of months I managed to complete the reading of two books by Greg Mortenson; "Three Cups Of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools" and while his early life was made up of expeditions of climbing mountains, his adult years were an expedition of finding his fate. The result of his climbing talents put him in touch with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, which later developed his desire to return to the rural outposts to help in developing an educational system in areas of great need. The years of formulating this plan and developing the financial backing of interested patrons in the U.S. helped in forming an approach that was less about the conquest of people and more about developing relationships and solving needs.
The documentation of his efforts, from fund raising to endless cups of tea, gave me an insight to not only what has to be one of the most beautiful regions in our world, but also intimate insights into the people of the region and their struggle to survive years of chaos that surrounded them. To me it reveals the results of collateral damage inflicted on a society wishing to be left in peace.
It's been several days since I put the last book down and now my mind is in the process of digesting the details, events and processes of Mortensons journey and I woke up this evening realizing that not only is the story a guidance in successfully living with others it also is applicable to other areas of life, and I think even art. Rather than trying to dominate a medium or subject I think Mortenson's discovery is much about listening to needs and then letting subject lead one to the final conclusion. By doing this a need is met in a more holistic way, and the solution is interlaced in the lives of the people it helps. Likewise, an artist can use the intimate details of a large, expansive landscape to define the importance of a space to the viewer with a result that the space becomes more meaningful as space and not something that has to be conquered, built upon or divided.
Clear as mud, right? I grant you that the theory needs more work, but don't let my ramblings deter you from buying the books and learning the story of a remarkable individual and his discovery of how education leads to peace.
Mr. Mortenson will be interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS on Friday, January 15 at 9pm Central time.
For more views of my work visit:
"A Piece Of Work", Spirit Lake, Iowa
Art Of The Vine Gallery http://www.artofthevinegallery.com
Artisans Road Trip www.artisansroadtrip.com
The Cornucopia Art Center, Lanesboro, Minnesota www.lanesboroarts.org