We are artists, of one genre or another, at one stage or another. Our leanings and yearnings are all somehow touched by this reality—which may be a lodestar, or still a flicker on our horizon. But yes, something within us takes shape and form and word because it must. Because it cannot be denied without losing our balance in life.
But it comes with a certain caution, a yes-but that hinges on that word balance. Something has been nibbling at my overloaded psyche, and left me with serious thoughts about an arts-exclusive focus: Life in the “real world”—the multiple issues that press upon us day by day, and the escalation of national and world problems.
Artists and writers, and all sorts of people who celebrate art and writing, are deeply concerned about the hard issues that life in today’s world imposes. There is an unending interplay between expressing creativity and handling the ordinary and inevitable hard realities of living. We cannot worship creativity at the expense of entering the fray. Art is not a retreat.
This leads us to a slight but obvious shift in focus. A way of stepping outside our normal boundaries and busy-ness, to join others who are affected (perhaps unconsciously) or afflicted (quite consciously) by the rigors of our national life—indeed, global life—and want to better understand and withstand and respond to it as creative people.
We often feel torn between our unmet need for creative expression and the rude facts of living in a sometimes “hostile” world. Admittedly, we may feel guilty at times for wanting to run away to a quiet place. (And yes, our artsy self needs tending!) Growing national and universal distress is the elephant in everyone’s living room. Climate change, global unrest, and societal upheaval confront us each morning. They shape everything by their looming presence before us.
How do we live in light of this encroaching darkness? How do we respond as writers and artists? How does it invade, inform, shape what we do? What do we bring to it that is redemptive? Where might it take us creatively? This may be an entry to new life for us. We would do well to bring our intuitive natures into a larger context—into a heart-full and mindful and authentic response to the problems of today’s very fragile world. We need to step out beyond our comfort zone if we are called to be comforters. I believe this is the prior and priority call upon us each—to gather up our Giftings and offer them as Gifts. No, not "freebies." Bigger than that.
As people who believe in the value of arts, the practice and enjoyment of them, and their soul-necessity, we can move in small, incremental ways—as people who are not “consumed by consumerism,” or defeated by despair, or captivated by the masks of things simplistic. Or dumbfounded by the endless stream of dark chatter that invades us daily.
How do we “tend” each other and care for those beyond us, in a toughening world? How do we build or join in a supportive community? We can come into it all, become insiders—bearing Light, wearing Light, sharing it. Art in the trenches is a bridge to higher ground. Small steps toward inventive living in times of crisis, a buoy in the flood of crises. We can gather hope from our inner resources, from those around us, and from the wisdom of the past, to create hope for the future.
Does this sound like a healthy challenge? I believe it is. I hold onto this, daily. This is Fine Art.
Come join the adventure. Bring your viewpoint and ideas. Say it with passion and tenderness and hope that defies the shredding darkness. Listen to what our readers, your “neighbors,” have to say. Weave something sturdy, something plain-spoken and beautifully simple into the fabric of life around us all. This is redemptive art . . . the reason for the Light within us.
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