Day 19 of 27.
James Baldwin’s quote struck a deep cord in my heart this morning. For as long as I can remember, art and artists have played an integral role in my life. From the day I was born, I was surrounded by writers, painters, poets, musicians, actors, photographers and architects. I would even go as far as to boldly state: Art is the noblest of causes, and not for the faint of heart. I don’t consider myself an artist by any stretch of the imagination, because I have not served the cause for a long time, yet I still feel most at ease in the presence of artists. There is no more powerful weapon than the reflection of Art back to society. I write Art with a capital A because Art and Artists are deserving of the highest respect and also the most staunch criticisms. Artists are agents of change, and as James Baldwin so aptly put it; here to disturb the peace.
Peace in most cases is seen as a positive state of mind, being at peace, feeling peaceful, is akin to what many teachings of yoga aspire to instill. Achieving Moksha (liberation-emancipation) from suffering and ignorance is one of the basic principles of yoga study; self realization and self knowledge being the ultimate goal. I for one have a long way towards liberation, so I continue to search and refine my practice.
Art and Artists in the very same light, are here to liberate, disturb, question, disrupt and uncover and heal a society; It’s not just meant to be pretty to look at. Artists like Baldwin are answering a calling; a Dharma, to become the disruption of our ignorance, our complacency; our plastic bliss. This is a service true artists don’t take lightly. It takes a brave soul, a self realized person to become and live the life of an artist, especially one that reflects upon what may be wrong or untrue about society.
Of course the more controversial and argumentative artists become the more they disturb the peace and cause friction, discussion, and ultimately change. And hate them as we might; they are the ones we remember. It isn’t a matter of taste or ability. Its a matter of dedication to the art form, and its impact. I am often saddened when artists choose to play the game or play it safe and not use their amazing gift as a force of profound change. Disturbing the peace is not easy, but it is the reason most art is created. WE heal through art and artists break open the facades and the masks that society stands behind.
Support artists who you believe bring upon that change in society, in you and in the communities they work in. Because true artists ARE instruments of change, and ultimately peace. And as Steven Pressfield states in his Book War of Art:
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
What artist or artists inspire and move you to create change in your life?
One thought on “Day 19. Art as agent of change”
Most pursuasive, and sharply thoughtful.