the artist makes & destroys

Fe2O3+H2O —> FeO(OH)   [ferric oxide plus water creates iron (III) hydroxide] 

Chemistry seems like an odd place to start.  But we will.  And for good reason.  It is the place where construction and destruction interfere with one another.

Why, you may ask, is the interference of making and destroying a thing worth consideration?  And what does chemistry have to do with it?  For those of us who may not have cared about chemical reactions or may have had the good sense to avoid such classwork--chemical reactions are all about taking the building blocks of matter borrowing & sharing the parts of said building blocks.  By this sharing, there is the creation of something new.  Something different and perhaps of more value than the individual parts.  The reaction itself is where energy is needed and exerted.  Sometimes this is violent, sometimes relatively passive.

The container that allows for water pressure in my home is made of steel; and full of water that has been lifted far above my house.  Water & steel; when these two materials meet, they create rust (the result of a typical and non-violent chemical reaction).  They also create water pressure when married together in the form of a water tower. 

By the way, they ultimately will destroy each other, from the inside out.

Interestingly, rust has been used as a pigment for art since prehistory.  And so, chemistry is a good place to start. 

Like the combination of substances can destroy the pure version of each participating substance, art is destructive in its execution.  There is the literal devastation of the pure untouched surface of a painting or the destruction of the brushes used to create.  There is also the sum of the parts of the devastation, that is the creation.  There is something useful and beautiful in the creation despite the loss of the things that existed before.

Then there is the unquantifiable substance of creating; like rust can be “color,” art can be a means of social change, or the articulation of love.  Or harder still, what exactly is deserving of the badge "art?"  Is it the reaction, the rust or the painting?

There is poetry in the chemistry.