The untimely death and timeless inspiration of Chris Al-Aswad

by DRM

Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a purpose to this great thing that the Internet has spawned beyond the creation of commerce engines, marketing campaigns and wealth beyond our wildest imagination.

The world has become too large, genius too widely distributed, stories too important and creativity too vital for the traditional gatekeepers — publishers, editors, producers, curators — to do the job of finding, shaping and presenting Art.

Into the breach step unknowns, driven by passion, personal aesthetic and generosity.

Chris Al-Aswad was one of those souls.

Now he’s dead.

I woke up early this morning, while the night dark still cloaked the yard and every soul in the house was sleeping. In the kitchen, I checked Twitter. @escapeintolife had died.

It’s a strange thing to register the death of a person who exists wholly as a live, vibrant concept, whose voice you never heard, face you never saw, skin you never felt. I was saddened.

You can learn about Al-Aswad. Start at Escape Into Life. It is one of the most distinctive creative sites I’ve encountered on the web. The spirit is of discovery and inclusion, exactly the way that life of the creative soul should be approached. Al-Aswad was the founder and driving force behind it.

Escape into Life hosts over 1000 contemporary artist profiles, and is also an online arts journal with contributions from nearly 25 different writers. Many of our contributors—ranging from well-known published authors, university professors, and freelance journalists—continue to publish art reviews and art history essays month after month.

The sadness I feel is a testament to the mark that Al-Aswad made in the world in his short life. I mourn the passing of a pure aesthetic and a generous soul. I wish his family strength during this time.

But I’m also reminded that the end of Al-Aswad’s life comes at the beginning of a great revolution for creativity, and that one distinctive legacy he leaves behind is the power that comes from approaching this world of freedom and discovery with responsibility and dignity.

God rest his soul.