November 9, 2016

Artists are needed in times like these

I'm not quite sure how to go about my day today, November 9th, 2016.
I thought perhaps I'd just sit here for hours liking and sharing all my friend's posts on Facebook in some sort of post traumatic solidarity. Maybe go do some meditating, or an extra early happy hour at some point... I am just about the most apolitical person I know and even I cried when I saw the words 45th president of the United States. It's hard to go make art when so much is going on in the world. And then I read this post by Matthew Weinstein and I thought, Yes, that's beautiful. So rather than just share it with my Facebook friends I thought I'd share it here as well.
Artists get back to work. We are needed in times like these. Think of the artists who, in grotesque times, turned revulsion into imagery and gesture, and through acts of passionate creativity gave panicked and grieving people an iconographical mirror. And when this time is past, and it will pass, people will look back at it partially through our images. Our gallows humor, beauty lust, anger, sarcasm, hysteria and rigor can make of this time something more than one of isolation and sadness.
The act of retrenchment into one's work is an insistence that the culture of creativity, liberality and love is not vanquished. Making art is an act of love. Love for one's self, love for a world that one wants to insert one's work into, and love for a world that seems to be always just out of our grasp; that we keep grasping for, because that's what artists do.
And like all love, the love of an artist for the world, which most of the time has no need of us, can become an immense rage; one fueled by betrayal and disappointment. But within art, rage can be transformed into a benevolent model of fury; an insistence that people who devote their lives to love and creativity are fucking planted in the earth, that inventing one's reality is not an escape but a stance. We don't have to like each other's work, but we need to respect each other for making work. And we need to hang with each other.
Let's make our best work, see each other's shows, and argue with each other about things so obscure that to the rest of the world we seem like cats lunging at shadows on the wall. There is nobility in caring about things; believing in things, and insisting that the world needs obscurity as much as it needs clarity.
A work of art can be a point in a triangulation between it and two people. This is valuable.
Art can be a model of keeping love alive when love seems dead.
Let's get through this day. Let's be with each other. Let's make our best work.


2 comments:

oilman said...

This is such a positive post!

Many artists in the UK are in a Pre-Post-Brexit state of angst - and this new deal is permanent. At least Donald Trump could be voted out in 4 years time.

I visited the Paul Nash exhibition at Tate Britain yesterday. He lived through two world wars and was an official 'War Artist'. I dread to think about what he experienced. But his artistic response to the destruction of war was incredible. His paintings enhance our lives, if we care to look at his achievement.

Get painting, people!

Samantha Palmeri said...

Thanks to Matthew Weinstein who wrote it. In spite of so many mixed emotions, after reading his statement and posting it here I did end up going to my studio. It's the best place to be at a time like this and I'm thankful I have that outlet. Yes, let's get painting!