Can Beauty Open Our Hearts to Difficult Conversations?
This was such a good Ted Talk, which answered some questions that I have been struggling with. I have always been averse to cynicism and the belief that there's not much we can do to change people's minds. On the other hand, I think about Nina Simone, and how she says it is it is the artist's duty to reflect the times, the "shape and mold" this country. What Kaphar says below is so powerful and gives artists a game plan.
"There's the aesthetic beauty of the work that in some cases functions as more of a Trojan horse. It allows one to open their hearts to difficult conversations. Maybe you feel attracted to the beauty, and while compelled by the technique, the color, the form or composition, maybe the difficult conversation sneaks up."
This is "Behind the Myth of Benevolence." Yes, Thomas Jefferson one of the Founding Fathers was a slave owner. The combination of the title and the image makes us uncomfortable, but it is necessary to be made uncomfortable in order to provoke change. He says it not only represents Sally Hemmings, whom he had children with, but also every other black woman who was on that plantation, but it's bigger than that. The juxtaposition of the " two separate paintings that are forced together on top of one another to emphasize this tumultuous relationship between Black and White in these compositions. And so, that -- that contradiction, that devastating reality that's always behind the curtain, what is happening in race relations in this country -- that's what this painting is about."
I hope beauty can open hearts to difficult conversations. Shying away from them will not.
I have heroes in this field that I call Creativity Activism. They donʻt call it that, they just do their thing, be it art, writing, music. There are SOOO many and the task is huge, but I will start with people I have personally met. My intention is to shine a spotlight on them to serve as examples for ME (and hopefully for you) of who I want to be as an artist. Itʻs not just about skill, but about their skill AND vision (though they may not see it that way.)