“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” ~ Frances Bacon
With markers in hand, I took my painting “Herr Drumpf” to an election party Tuesday night. I invited people of all ages to express their feelings about the election directly onto the painting. I considered it a way to heal from the past year of ugliness. As the evening took an unexpected turn, a different form of therapeutic art took place. “Herr Drumpf” became loaded with a weight I didn’t expect. As emotions became so tangled that evening, so did the graffiti.
Watching young and old alike graffiti over my painting soothed me. It provided a sense of comfort and community. It gave birth to colorful, grieving, angry, and sometimes hopeful messages. Providing one small avenue for people to express their emotions soothed my artist's soul.
I see the world through an artist lens. I believe
art has the power to help reconnect and heal.
Color alone can help me connect - the green
of a forest or the reds of an early morning
sunrise provide instant solace. Yet, this fall I
created a fully monochromatic painting
completely devoid of color. The color had
been drained out of me. Through the painting,
I tried to communicate that light shines through
I now need to find a way to bring the color back.
We all need to find a way to bring the color back. To bring back hope and healing. My head hurts. My heart hurts. My heart hurts for my kids, for all kids, for all minority groups, for myself. For our nation.
But I do have hope. I am already watching my own kids turn their frustration, their deep disappointment in our nation, into a commitment to do more. I believe they are representative of a new activism which will emerge - an activism based in the love of our nation. An activism based in a new understanding of identity politics. Their generation voted overwhelmingly against hatred and bigotry. I have hope that we will follow and learn from their activism.
Art is a natural way to express feelings and ideas. There are artists throughout the nation instantly taking action. Subway art in New York City. Chalk art at Webster University. Writers. Dancers. Visual artists. When I see this, I feel hope. When I watch my kids speak up, take action, I feel hope. When my students show me their paintings and their journal pages, I feel hope. There are so many ways we can all speak up, be proactive, begin. We can't be silent. We are all in this together. We must find hope in the aftermath.