What Is An Artists Role In Collectively Troubled Times

by Edith Boyer-Telmer

Dear Friends,
in my last post called “When will they ever learn? Obedience versus Self-Responsibility” I shared my feelings about a collective need for the individual human being to become politically aware, and to follow this awareness with authentic actions. During one of the conversation which emerged from my sharing on facebook, a fellow blogger called me “brave” for how I expressed myself, which made me think. I wondered why anybody would experience my writing as courageous, while I myself simply feel in flow and aligned with what wants to be shared. And it made me curiously thinking about all the other channels and artists, and about how they receive and experience their art.
I myself love to sing. I had a bit of professional training and feel very confident to allow my voice to be used by the universe, when I am giving a treatment or am holding space in a ceremonial space. I love writing – obviously, and am not shy sharing without controlling what appears on my screen. 

When a friend of mine send me a message with this beautiful text, I immediately experienced a intense rush of energy flowing from my head to my toes. I had to get up from my lazy sitting position, straiten my back – activate all my conscious breathing abilities, and make sure to catch the vibration deep within my body. This is how I know that an article wants to be written or shared, and where there is collectively important information stored right now.

This article is from the website brainpickings, written by Maria Popova:
A Responsibility to Light: An Illustrated Manifesto for Creative Resilience and the Artist’s Duty in Dark Times

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work,” Toni Morrison wrote in her electrifying case for the artist’s task in troubled times.
“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. That is how civilizations heal.”

But in such times of civilizational trauma, when the book of life itself seems to have come unbound, where are artists — who are not only human but perhaps the most human among us — to find the fortitude of spirit necessary for rising to their healing task? Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin offer a heartening answer in a collaboration that stands as a mighty manifesto for our time and a testament to the only mechanism by which the creative spirit has ever pulled humanity out of every abyss of its own making.

This is your assignment.

Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.

Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)

Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.

Perhaps inspired in part by Sol LeWitt’s famous “DO” letter, and reminiscent in spirit of the Holstee manifesto and Neil Gaiman’s iconic Make Good Art speech, this vitalizing call for creative resilience began in response to the political turmoil of 2016, which left so many so dispirited. Hungry for a counterpoint to the despair and apathy of the cultural climate, Martin and MacNaughton created one themselves. Written shortly after Leonard Cohen’s death, the manifesto ends with a tender homage to his famous clarion call for democracy.

Martin, who has advocated beautifully for reimagining our cultural ethos of success and who wrote most of the “FOCUS” piece while walking in the desert of New Mexico with a newborn strapped to her chest, explains:

While creating it, we imagined people hanging this poster on their office and studio wall as a reminder that they are not alone in their sadness and fear, and that they must must must keep doing the work. It matters.

Three versions of the poster are available online — red, white, and blue, black and white, and rainbow — with all proceeds donated to Hedgebrook, a rural writing residency for women, whose alumnae include Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, Dani Shapiro, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sarah Jones.

And what did other artists come up with?
A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.
Leonardo da Vinci

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.Dear Ones, Alice Walker ones said “Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for”, and I have to agree entirely. Being in touch with the creative energy flow within is a very healthy version of directing our power for creation, into collectively important actions for the Golden Age of Humanity.
Artsy Blessings ;-)!
Edith

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5 comments on “What Is An Artists Role In Collectively Troubled Times

  1. Pingback: What Is An Artists Role In Collectively Troubled Times | New Beginnings Guatemala | dreamweaver333

  2. Pingback: What Is An Artists Role In Collectively Troubled Times Part II | New Beginnings Guatemala

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