What does your art say?
This is a question that comes to me regularly. Often it is helpful in deciding which imagery to pursue because it forces me to ask if it is visually or emotionally compelling. Recently the question has been asking something else…
When the question is critical and challenging
What difference do your brightly colored nature-pattern images make to the world? Why didn’t you work harder on your silk screen skills, or learn letter press? Then you could make art that really SAID something. This line of thinking is disquieting, and has been with me as I have carved and printed a long, narrow linocut inspired by waves and fields. Here’s the progression of the work…
I truly value artists who could more overtly combine their artistic talents with their political voices. What must it have been like for Pablo Picasso to paint Guernica, a protest of the brutality of war in response to the German bombing of a Basque town? Did Kathë Kollwitz feel fear as she continued to create imagery exploring human suffering, even as the Nazi government declared her artwork as “degenerate” and prevented her from teaching and exhibiting?
In the studio, the truth comes out
Yet each time I head to my studio, color and light are what I explore. My black inks are hardening in their cans, having never been opened and used. To assuage my feelings of dis-ease, I recently brought out my acrylic paints, square tipped brushes and foam core to create signs to communicate my protestations at an upcoming rally in Indianapolis.
Perhaps work like mine is a reminder that there is beauty in this world. Beauty that is rapidly warming, burning, flooding… A reminder that we need to pay attention.
If you made some art, what would you say?