“As we all said goodbye to 2020, or perhaps good riddance, we entered 2021 with high expectations and hopes, as well as a contagious virus raging across the country, killing hundreds of thousands and ravaging our communities in many ways. There was renewed political turmoil, tearing at the shreds of our very democratic foundations. Can art be a solace during such times?”
As we enter 2022, we continue to face many of the same challenges and art may still be a comfort and consolation for the times. It may also bring us more than consolation, since art also nurtures what we value. It reflects something personal for each of us.
We are surrounded by art in our lives -- in our homes, in public spaces and throughout our communities. Art can be something we create. It can be the paintings or photographs on our walls or a craft, sculpture, or glasswork in our homes. Art can also be the experience we enjoy when going to a concert or theater. Lives are enriched by the arts.
Whether art is something we make ourselves or something we appreciate, it is often the source of pleasure, beauty, reflection, fond memories and associated with special times in our lives. It can also be a source for growth. In that respect, art nourishes us.
A friend, Scott Monty, has a newsletter, Timeless and Timely, which draws lessons about leadership and learning from history. He recently surfaced in his newslettera 2006 letter from Kurt Vonnegut responding to high school students who had written to ask for advice. I thought this lovely letter was a nice way to kick off 2022.
"Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Art for arts' sake. Whether you make art for yourself, as the kids were encouraged to do, or whether you appreciate art made by others, either way, it is a gift to nourish yourself.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” – Pablo Picasso
Cheers to You In 2022
Hoping your holidays have been relaxed and filled with joy.
Cheers to you and all good things in 2022. Take in or make some art along the way.