"It is hope that enables us to live, only hope." -- Edward O. Wilson
Is there a magic elixir to remaining hopeful?
Years ago I worked for the Kellogg Foundation. On a daily basis I was inspired by and in awe of people working diligently to protect their drinking water. The majority were young professionals following their passions. I often pondered what happens when young activists burn out? How can I help my grantees stay motivated in their work?
My curiosity lead me back to school. I asked these questions all the way through my doctoral program in adult education. Through my dissertation research I interviewed amazing environmentalists. I was gifted with being let into their inner thoughts, inner emotions. I was introduced to Mary Oliver's poetry during one of those interviews. I heard about hard fought battles and compromises and friendships and losses. But mostly I heard about hope.
Hope was the unifying theme. Remaining hopeful appeared to be a magic elixir to sustaining passion.
I am not sure exactly what hope looks like. Yet I do believe we are all hungry for hope.
Oddly enough in high school I had this stanza of Emily Dickinson's poem taped to my dashboard. My 17 year old self was hungry for hope.
Why bring this up now?
I often question as an artist how am I helping to protect the environment?
How am I helping people remain hopeful?
Every artist is going to play a different role in society.
I am not sure what my role is but I do know my commitment. I would like to provide a message of hope.
There seems to be two ways I can do this. I can help celebrate the beauty and joy of the world around us or I can provide thoughtful critique to our political, economic and social systems. I seem to flip back and forth. Perhaps that is necessary.
I want my art to connect with people’s emotions. Recently I have gone back to painting nature. Every time I paint a crane or cardinal or pine tree I feel a bit calmer, at ease, gentle. And ready to protect the world I love. If my paintings can help others feel the same way, then perhaps I am doing my small part in providing hope.
With love to all.