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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Edward Tufte, aka ET

I heard a story on NPR this morning that both resonated with me and made me aspire to do and be more than I am. That doesn't happen all that often when I listen to the news, particularly both in the same story, so I thought I'd share.

The article you can read online is abridged from the audio version, which is certainly worth taking 9 min, 8 sec to listen to. NPR has images of some of his work, but you can see it all at his site. Enjoy!
Edward Tufte is a professor emeritus of poli. sci. and statistics at Yale who is well-known for his work in presenting data clearly and graphically. He was recently recruited to the Obama administration's Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, to advise and devise ways to track and present in an easily digestible but meaningful form how the $787 billion stimulus package is being spent.

Yawn. That's all well and good and I applaud him, but neither resonates with me nor inspires me to aspire to more.

But ET is also an artist. A large-scale sculptor to be more specific, who does, IMO, some very fine work. He has just opened a gallery, ET Modern, in NYC. But he doesn't necessarily want to sell his work.

So here's the resonating part. In the article he says:

"I have a very big problem selling pieces, because I don't want them to leave," he says. "For a long time, I believed that any successful piece was a tremendous luck-out, and that I'd never be able to do it again ... My fellow artist friends, who are serious with me, told me to grow up."

I tell myself to grow up all the time. He went on to say that it's not necessarily the entire piece that he clings to, but rather elements that he's not sure will come again. I so get that, and suspect many artists feel the same, even if they don't say it out loud.

He also talks about giving back, which I love. He's smart, positive, creative, particularly in fields (poli. sci. and statistics) that are not generally known for creativity in a positive way, and not stuck on how wonderful he is. That combination is appealing and certainly worth aspiring to.

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