Whilst undertaking this project Ramayana: The Thread of Luminance many people mistake my interest for comic books particularly as I'm a fine arts graduate.
I have not read a comic book since I was teenager (over twenty years) ago and maybe a decade since I read a (adult) graphic novel*. I read exclusively world literature (all words and no pictures).
Whilst I have all due respect for the medium (though I find infantile) I refuse to be labelled an illustrator or comic book artist. I have never been commissioned by anyone to draw a pop culture figure and would refuse to do so if asked.
My work is wholly mine though it is inspired by the epic Ramayana following the structure of the story though it is merely a template that I draw onto. The idea motivating my project is, I feel much more important than 'just' re-interpretating an out of copyright epic for exploitation. As you all can enjoy, I hope it takes the form of another medium than is familiar to and increasing number of people old and young.
I admit it creates some confusion with people who like putting things into neat little boxes so they judge it or ignore it on their own terms but it was a visit to the British Library and its exhibition Ramayana Love and Valour in India's Great Epic and its Miniatures that inspired the project eventual production that had been sitting at the back of my mind as away of accomplishing Ramayana: The Thread of Luminance.
So the announcement of George Lucas's Museum of Narrative Art comes at an interesting time for me as I reach half way in completing it in this form.
There are lots of Galleries (particularly those that exhibit work before 1950) around the world that show narrative paintings of the birth and death saviours , sweeping history paintings of action and bravery and portraits of kings and folk heroes (as well as the rich and influential). But there are fewer and fewer contemporary art Gallereis that are interested in richness of creative expression (unless it's POP Art) preferring the coolest of post modernism and conceptual art to fill its halls.
I have no problem with that as someone with plenty of time on his hands and fair weather to walk between those museums I can and have spent my days gazing at works by El Greco and Goya as well as Robert Smithson and Kara Walker. I understand both the history and contextual differences of what I'm looking at with the tool set given to me buy my interest and education but I also consider it to one and the same: ART. Existing (unless it's squirrelled away in someone private collections) as contemporary art. Da Vinci is just a relevant NOW as any Damien Hirst as long as it can be seen for the price of admission.
(I get tired of some of my peers who refuse to acknowledge ART before 1950 and though a great chasm separates them)
I also know from volunteering at two arts centre and being a consumer that ART does not stop at the Gallery doors it continues into the streets, it's architecture, advertising and recently onto our phone screens with us.
Jonathan Jones in his article in the Guardian http://bit.ly/2juRbMD makes the point that contemporary art has lost the ability to create narratives that people will engage with on the level of fantasy and hopes that the museum will bring an opportunity for art to re-engage with it's audience, I agree with him; art today seems to be about the satisfying the funder (private or social) and justifying the apparatus of established arts centres with their inefficiencies and biases.
The proposed Museum in LA, California is a peculiar opportunity whilst it's easy to dismiss as a corporate ego trip by the film maker - and arguably the most successful (bar Steven Spielberg) imaginative mind of the late twenty century it could reassert the role of narrative in contemporary arts and be a venue of not just film tv and comics (I still miss the Museum of Moving Image on London's South Bank that was closed for refurbishment and never reopened being converted into a restaurant and ticketing for the NFT) but an opportunity to reconnect creativity of film arts, Illustration and graphic design to the works of Hograth and the Renaissance whilst promoting alongside memorabilia from Star Wars and Indiana Jones; Kara Walker and Paul Noble. Present storytelling from Africa and dance from S.E Asia, and yes even room to one of the greats narravities of the world: The Ramayana.
It could also reflect the diversity of LA and the wider U.S.A of bringing in narrative representatives from Asia and Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Remember it was when Lucas was preparing Indiana Jones that copy go Herge' Adventures of Tintin was given to him a graphic work that was and is largely unknown in the States. The museum could act as a catalyst for creatives and encourage migrant (both local and international) populations to interact and form new intersections in a variety of mediums.
In short the museum can be more that just a advert for omniscient franchises and the benefices but a space that can reach out and contribute into the imaginations of everyone.
*correction, I remember reading Ms Marvel Vol.1 in a Library a few years ago to avoid the rain.