"The artist's gift refines the materials of perception or intuition that have been bestowed upon him; to put it another way, if the artist is gifted, the gift increases in its passage through the self. The artist makes something higher than what he has been given, and this, the finished work, is the third gift, the one offered to the world." - Lewis Hyde (The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World)
"The artist appeals to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition -- and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation -- to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity which binds together all humanity -- the dead to the living and the living to the unborn." - Joseph Conrad (Works of Joseph Conrad, Vol. III)
"Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.” - Marian Anderson ("My Lord, What a Morning," Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women)
"There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere, and leaving it behind them when they go.” - Frederick William Faber (Kindness)
On the subject of "art as gift," I highly recommend Lewis Hyde's excellent book The Gift, as well as Daniel P. Smith's insightful article about Hyde ("What is Art For?"), published in the New York Times in 2008. Today's post is dedicated to my brother-of-the-heart William Todd-Jones. Happy birthday, Todd!