Art as Civility
It is true that art and artists often live on the edge of chaos. The artist temperament loves the borders of the unknown and the unexplored. It is where creativity can be discovered. Yet it is equally true that the desire for order is the creative process. Creativity is bringing order out of chaos. So inside of the artist exists a tension between chaos and order. Art is the result of bridging the thrill of chaos with our desire for order.
It is no secret that our society lacks any general sense of civility. The polarization or the chasm between this group and that group seems to grow wider each day. And yet the artist is given a wonderful and unique position to be a bridge builder between extreme perspectives.
I was shown video interview not too long ago between Woody Allen and Billy Graham. The interview impacted me more than I thought it would when I first watched it. What struck me is not necessarily anything either of them said but the way they treated one another.
Woody Allen, of course, is known for his bizarre and comedic films whereas Billy Graham is known as a straight as an arrow gospel preacher. The two men and what their lives stand for encompasses two extreme positions. Yet when they encountered one another, it was done with lightheartedness and respect.
My reflection for this week is this: How can we, as artists serve to be bridge builders? Through our works and through our communication and through the way we live our lives? How can we foster civility with those whom we disagree? Can we find the humanity even in our enemies?
This is one way art brings healing to a divided nation and stitches the wounds of a torn society. Life and death are on the tip of our pens and brushes.