why does art even matter on days like today

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There are some days when you wonder what good is art and art-making for. Why does it even matter? Really. How does it help this world be a better place, in this time?

A normal day can have this question floating around on the periphery anyway, thanks to a culture with backwards values or families/friends who don't get art, can't relate and think you should have chosen something different/more financially sound/more clearly of service or 'helpful' or understandable to society (whether they say that out loud or not).

And then there are those days when, on top of that, the hate and bigotry of the world comes crashing in loudly, when the suffering just lands a little more palpably on your heart, for whatever reason.

Picking up a paintbrush to make something can feel deeply insignificant on days like that. Days like today for me, with news of the New Zealand shooting.

I am an artist who paints and prays most every day, and yet how does that really matter in the face of religious bigotry and murder… an issue that enrages my mind and completely breaks my heart…?

Ultimately, though, I believe this unsettledness and questioning as an artist is a good and necessary thing.

Here are a few reasons…

It can move us to the action and connection that we are able to take and make, to learn more than we knew yesterday about 'others,' using the voice we do have to speak up and out and for the causes that break our hearts in the world.

Also, we get the privilege to choose to pick up the paintbrush (or what-have-you) anyway, because there is still This, Now, Right Here for Now... and to feel our smallness in that, and our sense of helplessness moving us into the life before us, and the complete blessing of that breathing, living moment to choose to do what we have been called to do.

And because art gives hope and beauty and expression to the despair AND the interconnectedness of our souls. Sometimes in process, sometimes on our wall, or on a doodle we kept from 20 years ago to help us remember who we are.

Sometimes the art is for the artist, sometimes for the {audience}.

This is the Mystery of Creative Spirit and the creative process moving through our lives, if we let it have time and space to be seen, to bring perspective to the precious moments.

As long as we are not using our creative activities to bypass or just numb-dumb out to what needs to be felt and given attention, but rather as a means to feel whole, to re-activate, to feel more deeply all that We are… then maybe it is not so insignificant after all, to pick up a paintbrush and move into heightened states of processing and awareness, witness and focus, at the altar of Being.

Being part of this messy human family.

It can all feel so utterly destructive and hopeless some days, like today - or any day you stay tuned in to the news lately, it seems… but after picking up my paintbrush anyway this afternoon, I remembered something else.

I believe art and creative expression are part of the ancient lineage of medicine for all of that.

Some of us are called to it, even though its place in the healing and function of this world is not always clear or ‘productively’ measurable.

It’s even part of how we can connect more deeply to the suffering, loss and the inconceivable, to what is needed or missing moving forward, to our part in it all… while keeping our channels open to what is sacred, beautiful, hopeful, connective and healing.

And that is the kind of creative energy that gives momentum to meaningful change, perspective and relationships in our lives.


Update: You can see the process video and musing for the painting I worked on, on this day, right here.

 
why art matters on those days when it seems like it just doesn’t (Hali Karla Arts)