I believe in the power of art
I believe in the power of art. I believe that art can grab you by the collar and hold you up against the wall. It can shake you and it can fortify you. It can transform you.
I am an art writer. On a daily basis, I visit artists’ studios. I ask questions about their process, I smell the turpentine and the earthy odor of clay. I stand behind them as they dip a brush into egg tempera, as they find the exact feather or foil to add to a collage. And in the end I believe they practice their art for the same reason I write about it – to feel the creative process at work through your hands, to feel it course through your body, and to watch it become part of the world – to make art is to affirm life.
When I was growing up, my childhood was chaotic: Fighting, drinking, abuse, dramatic upheavals all within the four walls of my life. But our apartment was also filled with art. There were over five hundred paintings, sculptures, prints and posters hanging in every conceivable space in every room of that New York City dwelling. Even in the bathroom. When the screaming and cursing started – I want to say I lost myself in the paintings – but if I think about it I would rather say that I found myself there. Art allowed me to wonder, to question, to research and in the end, to leave.
And now I walk into a studio, a gallery, a museum and I am stirred. I stand before a great painting, a Monet, a Rembrandt, an Ernst with awe and a sweeping desire to reach into the work. A few years ago, while visiting the Isabella Gardner Museum, I spent over an hour with Titian’s Europa. I couldn’t help it. I felt drawn to it. Afterwards I felt a shift, a slight skewing of my world.
I believe in the power of art, I believe that art is a mirror for our society, that artists have a responsibility to point out our strengths and our weaknesses. And that we all need to see beauty, even if it is in the light of ugliness. Beauty as reflected through art, lifts us, warms us, and assures us that we are not alone.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.