“Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.” -Leo Tolstoy
Hosting a multi-racial, trans-generational, inter-denominational evening of music, visual arts, crafts, poetry and culinary cuisine one block from where a murder and another attempted murder took place a few weeks prior, is a radical act of intentional defiance.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
– Romans 12:21
When people ask me if the art has to be “religious” at these events, I always say no. I do so because I know that general question is arising from a type of ideology (known or unknown)that often misunderstands or misses some of the most meaningful power and purposes of art.
If someone asked me if the art being considered for the show had to bring people together and that’s what they meant by “religious” than I’d heartily agree. But too often these days, art divides, denounces, denigrates, demands and despairs and that’s true, even of much “religious” art.
Our ARTattack event was striking at the core of our community’s cultural and moral cancer by bring people together around the shared values of truth, goodness and beauty.
We celebrated life together, on the same sidewalk where death sought to tear us asunder.
But…we will persist, because there is greatness in Americans and together, we can overcome.
Below are some selections from: ‘What is Art’ by Leo Tolstoy that express this vision.
“The task of art is enormous. Through the influence of real art, aided by science guided by religion, that peaceful coöperation of man which is now obtained by external means—by our law-courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspection, etc.—should be obtained by man’s free and joyous activity. Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.”
“The task for art to accomplish is to make that feeling of brotherhood and love of one’s neighbor, now attained only by the best members of society, the customary feeling and the instinct of all men. By evoking, under imaginary conditions, the feeling of brotherhood and love, religious art will train men to experience those same feelings under similar circumstances in actual life; it will lay in the souls of men the rails along which the actions of those whom art thus educates will naturally pass. And universal art, by uniting the most different people in one common feeling, by destroying separation, will educate people to union, will show them, not by reason, but by life itself, the joy of universal union reaching beyond the bounds set by life.”
“The task for Christian art is to establish brotherly union among men.”
“A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”
“…thanks to man’s capacity to be infected with the feelings of others by means of art, all that is being lived through by his contemporaries is accessible to him, as well as the feelings experienced by men thousands of years ago, and he has also the possibility of transmitting his own feelings to others.
If people lacked this capacity to receive the thoughts conceived by the men who preceded them and to pass on to others their own thoughts, men would be like wild beasts… And if men lacked this other capacity of being infected by art, people might be almost more savage still, and, above all, more separated from, and more hostile to, one another.”