A Work of Art a Day in Support of the NEA: Dore's Illustrations of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Recently, Trump proposed cutting funds to the NEA, PBS, and tons of arts organizations, as if they're just so much fluff that's crowding the budget. The loss of support for the arts will impoverish our culture drastically, not just by encouraging new artists, but by removing agencies, such as PBS, who provide many children and students with their first contact to the rich heritage of the arts in our civilization. Millions of works can be silenced by such an act, and people can grow up with no idea that Beethoven wrote symphonies, or Monet painted cathedrals, or Shakespeare wrote plays. Education isn't a push-button process--you need great material to work with, and that in turn inspires great teachers. By cavalierly cutting these programs, our country might as well say "to hell with culture," and "to hell with our souls." 

In light of this, I've been posting a great painting every day on Facebook (and now here) as a protest to what we stand to lose in the face of such indifference. Please share these works yourself or share others you like, because the only thing that destroys art is not knowing of its existence. 

In 1876, the great artist Gustave Dore made a series of engravings to illustrate Coleridge's masterpiece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798). While on some level a work of literature needs no illustrations other than the ones we provide in our mind, illustrations are a great way to collaborate with a work and redefine it for a new generation. Dore added a human element somewhat missing in the original, and looked back on it from the perspective of later horror and supernatural literature like Frankenstein and Poe's short stories. His stark, black and white engravings make the poem seem much more frightening than the original, but also anchor us right into the poem itself, since each image is beautifully tied to a specific moment in the text. These engravings remind us that all forms of art echo one another and can enrich the readers' experience, which is why art never dies, but grows stronger over the years and centuries. When I read Dore, I appreciate Coleridge even more, and Dore encourages me to find my own interpretations and extrapolations of Coleridge's vision.