‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’.
Some art is designed to reflect our taste, enhance our living spaces, and draw attention to the beauty that surrounds us.
But then there is art that impacts us to the core, it may be difficult to look at, and harder to live with because it taps into that part of us that realises that life is not a easy, and that our fortune and comfort comes at a price to another human being.
It has been said that ‘true’ art has a social voice, and for me this is true. That social voice may be highlighting the disparity in living conditions between the haves and the have nots, or it may force us to confront the reality of just where our latest purchase comes from.
The image of a pretty girl dancing through a summer meadow in her new, high fashion, chain store, cheap as chips summer dress, is a far cry from the slave labour often used to produce such clothing. The oppressed in one society being taken advantage of by big business to produce knock off imitations of high cost fashion to enable the poor in another society to feel as trendy and pretty as their wealthier contemporaries!
Art can, does, and should draw attention to the ills of our society. It can be the driving force behind social change, when we let it in.
But how does art comfort the disturbed, I hear you ask.
Just the fact that the voice of the disturbed is being witnessed and expressed goes some way to give a little comfort. And this is perhaps even more salient when art is used to express difficult emotions.
Sometimes words are not enough, but a piece of music, or visual art can just hit us right in the solar plexus and lift the lid on that darkest of places that every one of us has, but few will admit to.
The act of bringing those feelings and emotions into consciousness is not just an act of rebellion against ourselves, and the control we like to feel in our lives, but it is a rebellion that is necessary to our mental health.
If we do not, or cannot, sit with our difficult feelings and emotions, we will never truly be in control, and will live life constantly pushing them down and holding them in. This, my dears, is a recipe for both mental and physical health issues as we become evermore stressed and pressured with the effort of keeping the lid on our emotions.
So if at times you find my art comforting, then that pleases me greatly, and I truly hope that it resonates with you and brings you peace.
But even more importantly, if you also, at times, find my art disturbing, then I have truly done my job as an artist.