A Defeated Soldier Wishes To Walk His Daughter Down The Wedding

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Art by Dario Robleto

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In using dinosaur fossils and meteorite remnants, vintage records and bones, Dario Robleto’s art invites objects from the past to be in conversation with the present. He’s a sculptor and “material poet” who sees the potential for artistry in what others have left behind. But he doesn’t consider his work “found art.”

“It’s about the transformation,” he says. “It’s about what was hidden inside of [the object] that only the artist’s touch could have teased out through alteration.”

His eye for drawing out possibility in the mundane is something he talks about in his 2014 conversation with Krista, which we’re revisiting this week. He’s concerned not just with unconventional materials but also with alternative ways to understand the history of creativity — not as a lineage of artists but as a story of human beings, and our heartbreak.

“It’s on these weird edges of love when it’s at risk, and the things people will do in that moment, that I find tell this beautiful alternate history of aesthetics,” he says. “I like to say that if you could put on the table everything anyone’s ever made in a moment of loss, [that] would tell as beautiful a history of aesthetics and creativity as the proper art history that we all know. But that discussion doesn’t happen in art history because the people making it aren’t artists.”

The writer Elizabeth Gilbert also reminds us that we’re all descendants of makers. “The entire world, for better or for worse, has been altered by the human hand, by human beings doing this weird and irrational thing that only we do, amongst all our peers in the animal world, which is to waste our time making things that nobody needs, making things a little more beautiful than they have to be, altering things, changing things, building things, composing things, shaping things,” she says.

If you’ve never thought of yourself as an artist, Robleto and Gilbert’s words are an invitation to do so. We can all embrace new ways of seeing and being, regardless of what we seek to create. How different might the world look when everything is up for pondering and examining, reinterpreting and admiring? For walking through the world as an artist is, as Gilbert says, to choose “the path of curiosity over the path of fear.” In Robleto’s case, it may be to ask, “What right do we have to forget? What do we owe to each other’s memories?”

Which is also to say: We’re all involved in the process of artmaking by virtue of being human and present in this world. It’s up to us what we do with that material.

Yours,
Kristin Lin
Editor, The On Being Project

P.S. — For the next two weeks, we’re taking our annual break to rest, reset, and enjoy the waning summer days. You’ll still find some of our favorite episodes of On Being in your podcast feed each week, but we won’t be here in your inbox or on social media again until early September.


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On Being with Krista Tippett
Dario Robleto
Sculptor of Time and Loss

The philosopher-artist on creative responses to communal loss.

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Recommended Reading & Listening


Recommended reading image collage: image of a young person

focused and brainstorming; image of hands covered in paint; image of

someone dipping a paint brush into a bucket of paint around other

colorful buckets of paint

Listen | “Are We Actually Citizens Here?” with Annette Gordon-Reed and Titus Kaphar
Dario Robleto talks about the moral dimension of memory; this conversation with the artist Titus Kaphar, who is known for reinterpreting portraits of the U.S. founding fathers, asks similar questions of history. 

Read | “Bringing the Human Heart to Life” by Ceci Menchetti | Experience
One of Dario Robleto’s more recent projects features the first recorded pulse waves of a human heart. He brings these learnings into conversation with a cardiovascular scientist. 

Read | “Three Pieces of Advice for the Creative Life” by Courtney Martin
There’s wisdom for art and life in Courtney Martin’s 2018 commencement address to the ArtCenter College of Design.

Find more in our onbeing.org library on Creative Life.

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