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The Art of Impermanence

The Art of Impermanence

Every day he stalks the ocean for the retreating tide. The freshly groomed sand is his canvas and impermanence his life expressed through his art form.

Andres Amador creates temporary, large-scale, geometric art works using the sand of the beach, rakes and ropes. He knows before he plants that first tool in the ground that his artwork will have a similar shelf life to a fish out of water – limited and slowly fading away.

“People are enthralled that I would create something that is destined to wash away. It’s the story of our lives. The tide is unflappable.”

Andres Amador

What possesses a person to create intricate works of art knowing that they will be no more in a matter of hours?

As children, we are encouraged to play, to mold, to imagine. We give of our creative selves without a thought to legacy or permanent structures. As we age, and we become more conscious of our mortality, fear sets in. We become more confined, rigid and narrow in how we waddle through the world. We convince ourselves that we are immovable structures and we mirror that belief in what we hold on to, sometimes to the detriment of our personal development. What we possess possesses us because it becomes mired in our fear of losing it. We cling when the universe is inviting us to let go.

Many people who go through major life changes, particularly when sudden, describe this very dramatic experience of feeling their lives slowly receding. They are literally becoming undone by a retreating sense of self. Over time they solidify, forever touched by the realization that they are deeply fallible. They live with the ever-present awareness that their creation and destruction is always just one changing tide away.

How do we reconcile this tension between what we create and what is uncreated in our lives? To some, Andrea’s work would seem pointless, even futile. Why spend so much time creating something that will be so quickly undone? It is so deeply counterculture to the monuments we are encouraged to build around and for ourselves.  

…the trapezist is at their most creative when they are most unbound. The beauty in their movement is not when they are holding tight to the bar, but when they are whirling freely in the space in between the bars.

When you create with release as a backdrop, you access infinite possibility. I had a wonderful therapist once convey this feeling in a beautiful analogy; the trapezist is at their most creative when they are most unbound. The beauty in their movement is not when they are holding tight to the bar, but when they are whirling freely in the space in between the bars. That is Andrea’s art; learning to create between the end of one tide and the start of another. The art is his expression. His craft is letting go. The object is not his destination, the transformation of the subject is. That’s how great art is made, through the unmaking of the artist.

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Written by
Mark Stolow