“Artists are the gatekeepers of the truth. It is our duty to be the voice of people who are overlooked and marginalized.”–Common
So, I’ve seen a lot of life-changing movies lately. I already raved over “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the film about Mr. Rogers’ unflinching belief in the power of goodness. This past weekend, I saw, “Sorry to Bother You,” another awesome film with world-altering potential.
That’s why I like art so much. It has the ability to palpably move us without widening unnecessary rifts. Art, as far as I’m concerned, is all about communicating transformational messages.
I had the pleasure of chauffeuring several artists from the National African American Quilt Convention that was held in my hometown last week. These quilts schooled us on Jim Crow, voting rights and being a warrior woman, to name just a few.
So, today, because I’m thinking about it, I want to run an excerpt from my latest book, Art & Soul, Reloaded, about the power of art to truly change the world. Here goes:
I thought this was a book about being an artist.
But as I let the muses speak, as I committed to being a channel, I noticed a second message bursting forth: that being creative is about imagining a new world, about designing a new vision.
Art, when done right, orchestrates healing.
As artists, we’re out in the world conducting fieldwork on the culture.
Rather than protest and whine about the state of the world today, we must let our frustrations be our muse. We must let our disgruntlements inspire us to sing, to dance, to shout, “This is what we want instead.”
When a hyacinth macaw loses its nest in the disappearing rainforest, it doesn’t mope or call its therapist. It sings. It makes a joyful noise, reminding us what we have lost.
Ultimately, the world will be bound back together, not by politicians, but by thousands of individuals giving our gifts, thousands of individuals becoming ambassadors of the possible.
Our job is to put our art out there, to get others to gasp, weep, and hoot with joy. And only then, when their mouths are open, can we pop in the red pill.
Not only does art pry us open, but it encourages us to reach out, to join hands, to become a collective force for good. DIY doesn’t mean doing it alone. Creating, after all, can be a team sport.
One person taps out a beat. Another leads into a melody, and before long, the entire audience has joined the chorus, raising hope for the whole world.
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.