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Art and Memorialization

Art is the Main Ingredient to any Great Memorial

Have you ever pondered a fact of life and come to the realization that you have reached an astounding conclusion? Well here is some interesting food thought: memorializing can only occur with art.

When New York City residents who live near Central Park thought of memorializing the legendary African American leader Frederick Douglass, for example, they went to work on an elaborate work of art. Their project, of course, may not be Memorialization can only occur through artistic meansthought of as art immediately. Nevertheless, that is what it is. The residents turned a dangerous, all-but-abandoned traffic circle at the North East end of the park into a piece of art memorializing the man. Granted, the traffic circle is not "art" in the traditional sense; it is not a painting or a single sculpture. But it could be argued that this type of art is even more special than any single piece like that. The Frederick Douglass memorial is a group project, and a group of many individual art pieces, all aimed at memorializing the life that Douglass led.

But the most amazing thing is that, without art, memorializing would be impossible.

How else but with a statue, a painting, a poem, a story, or even a traffic circle designed with elaborate architecture, can someone be memorialized?

It is perhaps true that one could argue that memorializing takes place mostly in the individual brain, outside of the art's realms. But what is art if it is not the only way one can communicate with other brains? Even brains from the past and future.

Those who might argue that art is not the only way of memorializing might say that memorializing most often takes the form of, simply, one person remembering the life of another. And that would be a strong philosophical point.

For centuries, man has been utilizing art to commemorate peoople and eventsBut, if the thoughts remain as thoughts, can the experience be called, truly, memorializing.

Memorializing involves communicating thoughts about a life to the public - or even to just one other person. And that, by definition, involves art.

It is sometimes difficult for modern society to think of, say, the Great Pyramids, as works of art. Those are buildings, after all. And buildings are not art. But, of course, buildings are art. And memorializing a person with a special building is a beautiful thing to do. Great plays, likewise, are examples of people memorializing with art. Shakespeare's classic piece Julius Ceasar is an excellent memorial to the ancient ruler. And this is proof that art can be used in memorializing even well after a persons' death. Like Shakespeare, contemporary author Gore Vidal used art to memorialize a legendary leader from a previous era. Vidal's novel Lincoln is yet another example of art's memorializing ability.

No matter what the art, if its focus is on a person, it is engaged in memorializing. Even the art today that is about people who are living will, eventually, be carried into eternity as a precious memorial.

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