Art can be a complex process of dedication and courtship. It can be an alchemy that changes the maker and those that witness what was made. It can be a language that travels to places and feelings that words can't go. It can be a medicine for those that have lost hope and a wake up call for those who fell asleep at a dangerous time for slumber. It can be a hint of utopia that can motivate us to participate in the embodiment of a vision. It can be a document of despair that lets us know we are not alone in our suffering. Yes, it can also be a commodity, a currency, a distraction, and an indulgence....but it can also be a map to meaning, a mirror of humanity's attributes, a celebration of blatant magnificence and barely noticed nuances of beauty. What will art become in these months and years ahead, after the world has experienced a pandemic, and as all the social and economic side effects become apparent? Will art become more raw, more tender, more unifying? Will it be as diverse as all our responses to this crisis? Will it court gloss and glamour as a way to distract us?
My hope is, as we realize how tied this pandemic is to our general treatment of the planet, that art will somehow become more part of the solution to a sustainable future. Can art move further away from the use of toxic materials? Can art unweave itself from a capitalist paradigm to become an inspired communication between people? Can it find teachings from indigenous culture where art was a part of the myth, and craft, and ritual of the whole community? If, after this pause, more people decide to be creators, instead of consumers, what will art become? If we are entering into the recession that is predicted globally, and most humans are concerned with life basics, like food and shelter, what amount and quality of time will we have for art? Here we will see if people consider art a soulful necessity. We will see how art can adjust to the new concerns of global citizens. We will see if art can be strong, and smart, and supple. As someone whose world view, philosophy, and understanding of history has come through the study of art, I lean in, with curiosity, to our next chapter. the one we write together. I am looking forward to seeing the creative work of my friends, community, and strangers who I will get to know by what they shape. A question that came up a lot when I was at art school, and has continued into late night conversations with contemplatives is 'what is art'. There are often interesting disagreements and all sorts of curious arguments, but maybe no one can settle on a firm distinctive definition because art is a noun, but it is also an unfinished verb. What are we going to do, to shift its meaning and its content, during our time on earth?