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This is a Life Worth Living

What makes a life worth living? Making art makes a life worth living – for me.

In 2011 I began painting “This is a Life Worth Living” after seeing Werner Herzog’s film, “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” The nearly-animated ox painting on the Chauvet cave walls enchanted me and when Herzog’s inimitable voice described how a particular cave painting had been completed over FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, I realized that time actually was on my side. Why hurry to finish a painting? What liberation! In fact, I imagined that one might pictorially document the passage of both diachronic and synchronic time. But what would “time” look like?

Then, one steamy New England summer day, I found myself flattened on the kitchen floor, listening to Tom Ashbrook interview paleontologist Richard Fortey. Fortey recalled, ”Walking along the beach you’d run into these horseshoe crabs. They looked like old war veterans, all cut up and rough, but there they were, trundling along the beach with their eggs as they had done for the last 600 million [years]. You don’t live that many years without learning a few tricks.” Ah, critters! Somewhere between the Northwest rainforests and a mythical, millennial space, my painting’s landscape seemed ripe for creatures with marvelous survival mechanisms that I myself envied…each one carrying an imprint of Time itself. Making this painting helped me survive some rough years – so I’ve been delighted to learn from art collectors and puzzleniks alike that “This is a Life Worth Living” helped heal others as well…

 

© Sarah Jane Lapp, 2020