PRINT April 1992

Lonnie Holley

I PAY TRIBUTE with my mind and with my labor to the Spirit—something which is grander than time. I think about the seriousness of art. I also want to speak about the spiritual part of art. I have to look at it this way: that I’m serving time. All those bodies that has passed through time (leaving them nameless, there are there!), I must keep their respect or else fear that I will lose all that I have gained.

I think respect of the elders makes community. Once that respect is lost there is no longer a community, because if we lose respect from that which we came, we are somehow or another on the journey to losing our grip with reality. And art allows us to keep that grip. If I had not started looking back to appreciate I would have went on disappreciating and destroyed not only myself but the whole world around me. We don’t need artists destroying themselves. The Spirit that inhabited the great ones of the past, do you think that it would not inhabit you?

The mind is like the body: it have to put on clothes. When we find the master force of life—love being the nurturer, the pacifier—I can see the mind that lays a law, and have to think a law, and walk a law through life. Everybody is fearful that the world will come to the point of being destroyed. It’s not. It’s that the mind will come to a point of stopping to think in the order it is in and think in a new order. That’s the whole point of the spirituality of it. I’m looking at that baby who was five thousand years in the wombs of time and saying, “It’s alright, your space is secure—we made sure.”

Hurt comes to an artist, it stays with his thoughts, because if you’re the kind of artist that is able to think and never cut off your thoughts and you is the type of artist that reduces things to their lowest terms, you just don’t take things and say, “It’s OK: it’s OK that the grass is growing; it’s OK to step on it and it doesn’t matter.” If you have the type of knowledge that you know when you step on that grass you are putting pressure on the root and the soil around it and also mashing the moisture from it—knowing that you are causing something to happen—that’s what makes a difference. We’re talking about a divineness here; we’re talking about a divine level.

I hope that this will allow others to see all that need to be done and how much we have to do it with. Once upon a time, to come into life cost man nothing. How have we allowed the values that we have proclaimed to be in the way of continuation of life? These words are said for time and times to come.

Lonnie Holley, December 1991