My notebooks are filled with introductions: especially during the summer months, when I welcome and introduce dozens of speakers to COA. I spend a lot of time on such pieces. The goal? Rather than recreate someone’s CV in oral form, I strive to say something useful about the accomplishments and interests of the guest in question and creatively link those back to the mission of the college. I’m not always successful in doing that, but I felt particularly good about my introduction of filmmaker Olympia “Posy” Stone and her new film on the sculptor David Beck.
When this college was founded we were fixated on saving the world. Today we understand that the world will outlast our existence and, over the long haul, be just fine. The question has evolved: how can we be part of a better world – one that’s more just, healthy, more thoughtful, and more beautiful?
Science is key for understanding the tradeoffs we face. Business, long considered the source of the problem, we now understand as part of the solution. Policy or government: clearly also part of the equation. But, in my eyes, finding our place in the world begins and ends with art; it begins and ends with tapping the curiosity, motivations, priorities, and the patient observation of the artist and the lover of art.
Posy let me take a sneak peek of tonight’s film and that viewing changed the way I think about the world. Most importantly, it underscored that, in art, everything can be interesting. Everything can be interesting provided we develop the mental and the manual competence necessary to understand the world around us. David Beck and Posy Stone both exemplify people who have cultivated the sense that everything is interesting.
If we all cultivated this sense, our motivations for living and our relationship with humanity and with the planet would be realigned and would be better. It took the artist, in this case David Beck, to underscore that for me. But it also took a storyteller, and Posy Stone is one of the best storytellers I know.
Posy is a storyteller and a filmmaker. I also think of her as an archaeologist.
Imagine the world of living artists and their artistry – thousands of living artists and mountains of interesting work. Posy could have chosen anyone, but she did what archeologists call a site survey and chose to excavate on David Beck.
But once in the right trench, she faced the task of troweling through David’s life and work and likely ended up with 80 hours of raw material. She then sieved, brushed, reexamined, and analyzed the raw material to put together an amazing story.
She performed that archaeology of ideas on the sculptor Elizabeth King; and on her father, Alan Stone, in the film The Collector. Two years ago, Posy came here and screened The Cardboard Benini – a film on Jimmy Grashow.
During that showing it clicked for me that, with films about art, you’re examining the process of a storyteller — the filmmaker — superimposed upon the process of another storyteller — the artist. If those gears aren’t synched up perfectly, the film is either terrible or it simply documents. In Posy’s films the synchronized storytelling comes together so beautifully that you get so much more than a documented story about an artist or a piece of work or a collector. You get completely new information, new insight, new ideas that neither the artist nor the filmmaker could ever have produced independently. The product is compounded.
I’m so honored to have Posy and David here and am so excited to see what new information and new ideas and new stories you see through this tremendous film. Please welcome Posy Stone who will introduce Curious Worlds: The Art and Imagination of David Beck.