This I Believe

Anne ``Ahni`` - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on October 23, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: creativity, peace
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I believe

“How do you change the texture of civic dialog?”

I believe that art, which humanizes, has the power to open us to a nonviolent culture-of-peace.

Too often, there is a falling in love with violent force as productive, although as love is blind . . . violence only produces violence. In response to our culture of violence, whole segments of society are often locked into a system of “defeatist” thought and inaction, unaware of their own power to build community and embrace change in their personal lives.

I believe that art has the power to unlock our minds and hearts. The innovative thinking of art gives us permission to innovate … to see the world and our relationship to it with new eyes. The socially conscious art of recent decades allows us to psychologically leap beyond the thinking of our immediate social circles. Art has the capacity to unleash compassion in profound ways that defy logic. The best of art humanizes us.

I will never forget being introduced to the work Adrian Piper, or seeing Picasso’s Guernica, all of its 25 feet by more than 11 feet grandeur, being stunned by Chris Burden’s submarine installations, reading of Yoko Ono’s performance piece called “Cut,” or of seeing Robert Giard’s Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, and Krzysztof Wodiczko’s video projections of interviews of mothers of victims of gang killings.

It is through my own art making, and by observing the conversations within the communities of artists that I am aware of the infinite stories where people have been transformed by art, by poetry, by words which speak to life’s most gripping moments. Art deepens the human experience because art is earth moving.

If art with human experience at its center, were freed out of the museum, into parks, plazas and campuses – new insights and renewed compassion for other human beings would result in a widely shared experience.

Having felt and witnessed the power of this type of expressive art, I was moved to found Spaces For Peace, a nonprofit organization collaborating with communities to generate a nonviolent world by building art spaces in these parks, plazas and campuses around the world. Spaces For Peace brings together expressions by artists from around the globe, such as those just mentioned; in order to share with the world art that embodies the nonviolent way of life. Nonviolence provides, for those who embrace it, an entire creative and open methodology, a veritable box-of-tools for evolving one’s life — nonviolence and art fit well together because they have in common the use of the intelligent and strategic use of the imagination!

There have been so many parallels between the undercurrents of contemporary art and the teachings of nonviolence: For example: truth is beauty, the anti-heroic ethic, “reduction of wants,” which Mohandas Gandhi taught; and his truth out of humility and doubt; social interdependency. The Cool-headed methodology of nonviolence informs a way of life, like much art, and puts us in the shoes of others. If we could learn to do this one thing, see the world from the perspective of the other, what a different world we would have.