Art Allows Us To Practice Who We Might Become

In art we can be anything we want ... We can paint our skin blue, tie wings to our feet and reach for the sun.(Photo: James Bodington)
In art we can be anything we want ... We can paint our skin blue, tie wings to our feet and reach for the sun.(Photo: James Bodington)

Like everyone, I was glued to the news outlets over the weekend due to the shootings in Arizona.  As details emerge the tragedy is replayed and the devastation is renewed.  It is a raw, open wound, and we are only beginning to understand what happened and why.

It is difficult to write about art, think about art, or find art relevant today.  It feels like a betrayal to the national state of mind.

Yet, art matters on days such as these.  Perhaps, it matters more today than on the other ordinary days of our lives.

Art Matters because art allows us to practice who we might become.

In art we can be anything we want, we can portray ourselves as heroes or villains, the main character or supporting cast, the vindicated rouge or retiring sage.  We can paint our skin blue, tie wings to our feet and reach for the sun.  We can become violent or nurturing, courageous or thoughtful in a place that is prepared for experimentation free of bodily consequence.

Think that’s just for kids?

Nope, it’s for grown ups, too.  If we could give ourselves permission to engage in art with the enthusiasm of a child, then that’s exactly the right attitude.

In practicing art, we can be our best selves or worst devils. Some say that living in the imagination is harmful because self-indulgence becomes the master of the process.

That is true only if art is kept in seclusion.  This can be said about so many practices – religion and philosophy come to mind.

But if art is encouraged and nurtured in the public sphere – yes, I’m talking about schools, but not exclusively – then art is an open process that allows for healthy experimentation and safe expression, practicing what can be in the realm of what already is.

Would the shootings this weekend have been prevented if the perpetrator had been allowed to draw or paint in school?  I’m not suggesting this.  It’s too raw and too complicated to draw such an inane conclusion.

What I am saying is that when violence happens, or crisis walks through our front door, we need to have practiced the art of possibility – who we can become – so that the process of renewal isn’t hampered by learning it as we go in the aftermath of such terrible events.

If we practice being creative, innovative, peaceful people then that’s who we will be, even when tragedy knocks – especially when tragedy knocks.

I promised to act on my thoughts every week in this blog.  And for this week, I am practicing peace of my mind, in my thoughts and in my actions.

Cindy Gaillard
ArtZine Executive Producer

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