Because we think art matters.
The whole artistic process matters.
The values gained by celebrating the arts and artists, cultivate a number of values, traits and practices that help us learn to navigate the challenges of community and life.
Here’s a few that I think are meaningful:
- Slowing down to contemplate, listen and savor.
“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.”~Junot Diaz
Life is so fast these days and learning to look and listen is being crushed by the speed and ease of things. We live in a time when we don’t need to learn to observe and listen because everyone and everything is seeking to tell us what to think, what to say and how to act. Art offers us a view of life that is multifaceted and boundless in ways that help us escape groupthink and forced conformity to patterns and practices of the demanding world.
- Celebrating the act of creation.
In a world of chaos, people need to practice creation. It’s a message of hope and empowerment in the face of things that seem uncontrollable and ominous. This is especially true for individuals who live in cycles of poverty, need or oppression. The margins are often full of hopelessness and nihilism. Creation in all it’s forms are keys of escape, be it momentary or eventual.
- Practicing the value of giving and receiving.
Take, take, take…can become a posture of life, mind and heart and it corrodes the fabric of relationship. A sense of entitlement makes life and people unbearable. The pressure of expectations and the demanding nature is a heat lamp to wilt joy, spontaneity and freedom. An encounter with art disarms the claws of that character trap. You cannot force art to conform to you. You have to come at it freely. Learning to interact with art teaches us to develop as people, to humble ourselves and practice the art of asking, seeking, knocking and waiting.
- Speaking in parable about meaningful and monstrous things.
This world is far more beautiful and frightening than we allow ourselves to face. Art confronts us and witnesses to realities of others and ourselves that need to be examined or heard. Good art isn’t easy, or cheap, it should require something from us. It should at times be daring and dangerous of mind and heart. Truth is the prophet in art.
- Practicing the values of measured pace, patience, process, craft, skill, courage, vulnerability, appreciation, contemplation and discovery.
Drink and food is often served at art events because most people are wired to run through things at a pace that misses what someone who is slowing down will catch. We are losing the value of slow work, of taking time to make something well. When we come together to celebrate art and artists, we are reminding ourselves of the values that make human life deep and rich.
- Giving ourselves to awakening, revelation, inspiration and illumination.
People are wired internally to long for the numinous and art touches the soul, often bypassing all the walls of skepticism, judgment and prejudice. Art can teach us to see life, people, places and things in a new light. Art can make blind people see, deaf people hear and lame people walk.
- Celebrating community and inter-generational togetherness.
Art brings people of all ages together. From the first creative moments of childhood, we are hovered over by older people celebrating all discovery and new acts of doing. The first works of art are praised, cherished and presented on fridges, framed for walls or posted online. We learn very young that we are a people of mutual admiration and praise. We learn that the old can be voices of nurture, a presence of praise and that’s an environment for healthy growth.
- Practicing the art of hospitality, welcome and togetherness.
Hosting an art event, requires thinking about others and that is a priceless gift in its right place and measure. Cultivating the art of hospitality in a world that is constantly demanding us to divide into more and more subcategories is critical to reclaiming a sustainable expression of community. Opening the doors to strangers and friends to come and experience what we have created and desire to give to others, is a practice that can help mend the tearing fabric of community.
Invitation by Shel Silverstein
If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer,
If you’re a pretender, come, sit by my fire.
For we have many a flax golden tale to spin.
Come in, come in.