I just got home (It’s after 10pm). I’ve been thoroughly exhausted since I woke up this morning, spending the day at my desk alternating between scrolling absently through Facebook and Twitter and swearing off social media completely. The tension between avoiding all post-Election coverage because of the white-hot rage in me and the need to commiserate with like-minded folks was tough to navigate.
In the middle of one of my scrolls, though, I noticed that one friend had sent me this Toni Morrison quote while another of my close friends (Haley) was doing just what the quote says, beginning the process of creating some art.
She called for anyone in this artist’s collective I’m loosely a member of to join her at Livingstones (one of our local watering holes) to vent and to discuss how we can begin to put this into our work creatively.
There were 10 of us there between the ages of 19 and 43 and the sense of fear, rage, and frustration was palpable. The younger ones are confused, the older ones tired. But the conversation began to steer around to how creativity works in times of darkness and in light, how we can explore our feelings with art’s immediacy and then look to the future.
After a while, they came up with a pop-up performance project with a two-week timeline and a follow-up project scheduled for Inauguration Day. The first project will feed into the second as this “peaceful transition of power” is executed.
During the discussion, the notification for this post from Richard came across my phone:
The way the work an artist is performing or creating can speak to him in a time of tension is one of art’s odd, mystical properties. The words spoken dozens of times, maybe hundreds at this point, suddenly have fresh flavor with the addition of new context and experience.
This is, of course, what we do as artists. Begin making connections, exploring questions, and seeing something mundane in unexpected ways. Often it is in the tension between opposing views and radically different values that we find the stuff of art. Sometimes we bore a hole right into the core of that tension and find out that it is all about fear, loss, or some great unspeakable need. For all of us.
I’m not sure I’m really there yet, though. I’m not at the place where I can feel like the world isn’t some sort of absurdist nightmare come to life. But maybe helping these young artists produce their work and speak to the world will help me come to terms with it all, too. So often that’s what artists do, anyway: Create their art to decide what they think and how they feel about things.
Because we’re all just guessing here, aren’t we? Especially now.