Daniel Bartholomew lives in New York. He works at Yeshiva University.
I experience a lot of joy through artwork, even though I don’t get to do it enough. Honestly, if I could figure out how to market things, I could spend the rest of my life exploring line and color. I’d like to do some much larger artworks — really unleash things. I think it could get pretty fun and crazy quickly.
It has taken me a long time to figure out how I feel about my own artwork. Years ago I went through a rather discouraging (and false) phase where I thought my artwork wasn’t spiritual. It was becoming almost an all-encompassing obsession and I wasn’t sure where it would take me — so I destroyed the artwork I had and made an effort to go in other directions. Part of the problem was that I was finding the artists I liked and identified with to some extent (Kandinsky, Keith Haring and others who experiment with line and color) weren’t exactly family people or religious people. Also, I realized that art was almost all they were — and I wanted to have other facets to my personality. Most importantly, I wanted to stick with the faith, so to speak and was worried that somehow my artwork interest could take me out of the church (though I had never been inactive). I thought LDS people would not be able to identify with my artwork and that it would only appeal to worldly or sinful people. I wanted to feel more sure about the direction I was going and not just have my artwork pull me wherever it would.
It took me awhile to realize I was wrong about my artwork not having spiritual value. I have realized (or at least I feel) that the artwork is cheerful and friendly and fun and that these are spiritual values. There is a quote about Helen Hardin, an artist I adore, that I found recently. It says:
Hardin, who died in 1984, felt her work was spiritual, not in the structure, religious sense, but in the ‘sense of being alive and human, a sense of an affirmation of the spirit.’ (Paradox, Precision and Passion)
That’s what I feel my artwork accomplishes, to some degree. My art isn’t particularly Mormon on the face of it — but someday I do hope to incorporate scripture (particularly Book of Mormon scripture) into my artwork. Being a Mormon is a big part of who I am and I want to reflect that in my art in a way that is respectful, loving, faithful, etc. That’s a tricky business, but certainly completely possible. I just haven’t had the time to develop a system of symbols or an approach to using words that would work … but it is something I think about. I’d love nothing more than to find a way to perfectly merge these two things in a way that people (including myself) could really enjoy them.
Daniel is happy for people to download art from his site.