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Dancing with the Gods: Reflections on Life and Art

Dancing with the Gods: Reflections on Life and Art

by Kent Nerburn


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When Kent Nerburn received a letter from Jennifer, a young woman questioning her calling to spend her life in the arts, the writer and artist was struck by how closely her questions mirrored the doubts and yearnings of his own youth.

Nerburn resolved that he would write his own letter: a letter of welcome and encouragement to all young artists setting out on the same strange and magical journey, sharing the wisdom of a life spent working in the arts.

From struggles with money and the bitterness of rejection, to spiritual questions of inspiration and authenticity, Dancing With the Gods offers insight, solace and courage to help young artists on the winding road to artistic fulfilment. Tender and joyous, it is a celebration of art's power to transform the darkest of human experience and give voice to the grandest of human hopes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786891150
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Edition description: Main
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 611,545
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kent Nerburn is a sculptor and award-winning author of sixteen books. He has been writing about Native American history and culture for almost thirty years, and is the founder and director of 'Project Preserve', working on the Red Lake Ojibwe reservation helping students collect memoires of tribal elders. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Dreams and Fears Choosing the artist's life XIII

The Journey Begins

1 Courting the Muse: Finding the place where time stands still 3

2 Finding a Vision, Finding a Voice: The search for authentic personal expression 13

3 Inspiration and Training: The essential responsibility of learning your craft 25

4 Dancing over the Abyss: The courage to fail 33

5 The Unwavering Beacon: The inviolable imperative of excellence 43

The Hard Places

6 The Peril of Easy Blessing: The need for long patience and the pitfalls of early success 53

7 Dark Nights and Waterless Places: When inspiration fails and doubt sets in 59

8 The Slamming Door: The pain and challenge of rejection 67

9 The Merchants of Doubt: The harsh reality of critics and criticism 75

10 The Dark Companion: The toll of money on the creative spirit 85

11 The Golden Handcuffs: The tyranny of success and recognition 101

The Hidden Secrets

12 The Divine Thread: The psychic connection between artist and audience 113

13 The Hummingbird's Heartbeat: The gossamer line between discovery and mastery 121

14 The Architect and the Gardener: The magic of accident and faith in the unknown 131

15 The Right Stroke: The fine art of the appropriate choice 139

16 Abandoning Your Children: The hard decision to leave works behind 149

17 Time and Timing: The art inside your art 159

The Unseen Joys

18 Many Hands and a Common Heart: The joys and challenges of collaboration 171

19 The Solace of Unlikely Friends: The wisdom and insight of other arts 181

20 On the Shoulders of Giants: The magical bond of artists across time and space 191

21 The Fist in the Velvet Glove: The dream of a better world 197

22 The Voice that Cannot Be Stilled: Why art matters in a world of human need 207

23 The Eternal Youth of the Endless Imagination: The power of art to keep the heart young 215

Coda: Expressing the Inexpressible 227

Acknowledgments 241

Permissions credits 245

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