08 Oct East/West or The Art-Full Life
These seem to be turbulent times, but I suspect each generation thinks the same. Much like technology, which attracts prognostications of game-changery,* current events often seem to us, living in the now, as being the worst of the worst. This notwithstanding, it does appear that we’re living through the death of vital social conventions regarding the respect and dignity of all peoples. A quick scan of any social media channel reveals that many individuals have parted ways with their ability to empathize with others, and perhaps more importantly, their capacity to realize their own privileged position when weighing in on the unfolding disasters in the US, Middle East, and elsewhere.
As summer disappears into autumn, I’m feeling contemplative. Considering the unsettled months that have passed, and trying to pull through the consistent threads of thoughts and actions and understand them in the context of my own small life.
Art is a constant presence in my life (being married to an artist will do that), but this year in particular, I found art to be both a refuge and a provocation: a visual, visceral question about our collective humanity. Art is divisive, difficult, unsettling, awful, profound, and awesome (in the olde sense of the word). And it has something to say, I think, about the predicament that we find ourselves in. It offers a comment on how we can be living through days of extreme hostility and contraction, a narrow-mindedness that baffles and offends and is scarcely to be believed. Yet (and yet!), eloquence and beauty persists – flourishes even.
For me, art offers a way to gaze at the world through different eyes. And, most importantly, to consider whose voices are heard, and whose are missing.
(*Yeah, I know that’s not a word.)