As I write this, many of us are having concerns about our health due to the Corona Virus pandemic. In connection with that are concerns about our leadership, election campaigns, and the economy. I recently attended a panel discussion about civility in partisan times. One of the major points was that throughout human history there has been conflict and worry, however our similarities often unify us more than our differences.
An example I thought of is when a natural disaster occurs. Our news outlets will cover it almost exclusively. Most often, what I have observed is the immediate response of just regular folks offering some assistance. Individuals, groups, even entire businesses will drop what they are doing for a moment and send care packages, aid, or truckloads of goods to help the wounded heal.
How does this observation tie into anything art related? I think it shows a profound connection that is central to just about all of us. We all are individuals, navigating our way though our own lives. The diversity of options, choices and opinions create a vibrant and active society. The discourse is what keeps us evolving and growing our ideas about nearly everything. Sometimes those discourses become groups of thought or practice. This is good because our positions can be challenged or affirmed, relaxed or strengthened. The hope is that we learn to regard and respect each other in the end.
Different Styles, Different Strokes
In the arts, there are many ways to manifest something into being a work of art. An idea takes shape based on each individual artist. Each of these artists may identify more towards a larger style or genre of art. Simply described, there are the contemporary works that are made most recently, or historical works made some time ago, maybe even as just a decade or more ago. Those historical works are categorized eventually as styles, periods or movements. Impressionism is a historical movement, for example. It can also be considered a style as well. If one paints a piece today in that historical manner, it is a contemporary artwork in the Impressionist style. Today, styles old and new are utilized and appropriated to make all kinds of things.
Of course, the wonderful thing about art is the community it becomes. The phrase, “to each his own”, applies to creative tendencies of the artist as well as individual taste of a collector or patron. Which is better is really a matter of choice. And thank God we have the choices to make and why the contribution of the arts to a society is so important. It is the common thing for all of us, to share and connect our stories and ideas. We seem to want to relate to each other more than divert from each other.
The Thread Throughout
As a traditionalist painter, I still enjoy and appreciate the work that is contemporary and continues to seek the uncharted areas of ideas. My personal experience as an artist has brought me through many reflections about just exactly what and how I will produce anything. With that came a lot of reading, particularly the writings and texts of philosophers and critics. In the end, I chose the traditional landscape through which I express ideas and sentiments. Many of these I found to be in common with the more modern thoughts within contemporary art circles. Thus, it seems, the exchange of unique ideas and perspectives is what gives us that one commonality at least, in that we all have this diversity of thought! Each time an artist goes to the creative space, they are apprehending their character within and manifesting something into the tangible space of being something more than just an idea. Mostly, we gravitate to those ideas that are within a spirit of encouragement and contribution. Those are the ones that typically survive the longest.
Whether styles of art, helping in times of need, or debating on which course to follow, the common thread fortunately seems to be based more in that mutual, species type of survival and support. It seems our love and respect for one another can override our witness to harm and disrespect. When those bad things occur, we tend to fight to rectify rather than support it. We tend to share more than we give overall, therefore it is comforting to know that each of us has that peculiar artistic tendency to create, innovate, share, care and give.