The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.
– James Baldwin
Art’s role in healing trauma, restoring a sense of self, and bringing together a community has led us to realize how artists are our second responders. Artmaking is a necessary part of life, and core to processing, expressing, reckoning, and healing. In a time of worldwide heartbreak, we are recognizing our interconnectedness to one another, and creation of art is one way we deepen our empathic networks. The selected works by these artists engage with worldwide feelings of darkness and loss, using art as a path to communal processing and healing.
One of Many, 2020. Digital images hand-stitched. 40” x 25”. Courtesy of the artist.
My first response to being at home: social distancing was to do Art. Shapes and patterns started to show up in my “mind’s eye.” And I began to cut out circles. The circles became a pattern and before long I had created a pattern of circles that are connected. Facing Darkness opens us to possibilities. We are all connected, we are all different colors and shapes and we are all beautiful.
“Hopes and Fears and…”, 2020. Textile samples and linen thread. 24.5” x 16.5”. Courtesy of the artist.
“Hopes and Fears and…” describes a state where the mind obsessively repeats what it fears, framed in the mantle of hope. Such a process is a way of dealing with darkness. Are not hope and fear intrinsically linked as two sides of the same coin? We fear, then we hope that the realization of our fears does not manifest. All the hopes and fears stitched into this work are born of the state of our world, planet, society, and culture, and are voiced by many across the globe. This piece gives voice to those voices as well as my own.
M Susan Broussard
Saturn Speaks, 2020. Ink and chalk on paper. 30” x 42”. Courtesy of the artist.
Saturn Speaks is part of a lockdown series. Saturn Speaks specifically addresses our interconnectedness. Despite quarantine, despite any feelings of loneliness or isolation, the truth is individuals are unavoidably still connected. This lockdown series’ use of old master figures represents the timelessness of the human condition. It comforts me that nothing new ever happens. That history keeps repeating itself. As awful as things are, if it has all happened before, then we will surely survive this time around, too.
Six Positions on Uncertainty, 2020. Video still. Courtesy of the artist. For full Vimeo click here.
As part of coping with social isolation and the associated neurosis and fear, I have been developing a movement ritual that seeks to ground and root my brown hybridized body. My practice uncovers physical gestures and positions that resonate with metaphorical and associative readings, seeking to bring solidity to the uncertainty surrounding us. Being tethered can feel both comforting and suffocating.
Fear Not, 2020. Mixed Media / Digital. 16” x 10”. Courtesy of the artist. https://www.myalienabduction.net/
Fear Not is from the artist’s body of work “My Alien Abduction,” a pantheon of a fictional legacy based on the artist’s real life events. Fear Not is a benevolent message that good shall prevail over evil and light shall diminish darkness. Fear Not. Face Darkness.
The Displaced-Immigrant Women from around the World, 2018. Acrylic on vintage paintbrush. 36” x 20”. Courtesy of the artist.
As the world faces extraordinary challenges, women are increasingly feeling the brunt. As caregivers, essential workers, wives and mothers, it is the women of the world that are forced to endure the worst hardships. Immigrant groups are especially vulnerable. This group of portraits reflects the resilience these brave women bring to unprecedented times.
Repair the Web of Time #2, 2020. Wire, Plaster Wrap, Metal, Watercolor. Courtesy of the artist.
By emphasizing the ritual of your own unique craft, you demonstrate the restorative power of contemplation and endurance.
Tree Rubbing, 2020. Handmade charcoal on canva. 88” x 66”. Photo by Gene Ogami. Courtesy of the artist.
This piece is composed of three parts. A video, a poem and a large canvas artwork. Here is a link to the video.
Over these past several months the world has been a dark place, one filled with fear and uncertainty. Confined to our homes, out of our routines, we watched as the world we knew came to a rapid halt – a time out – a time to reflect on our lives and our mortality. Nature, which has always been my source of inspiration and comfort, beckoned more so than usual to come close, to examine. I ventured outdoors with my family unit for a reprieve from the confinement of our home, in order to create a piece of connectivity with nature that would remind us of this time of isolation.
The poem is:
a time out
from our everyday routine
a time of
survival and adaptability
a time for
collective acknowledgement of mortality
a time to
a time of
compassion and giving
a time for
connecting with what we hold dear
a time to
wake up to nature. around us. within us
Julia Michelle Dawson
“Mastering the Mistrial”, 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 48” x 60”. Courtesy of the artist.
There are times when we can only see darkness, when we feel alone and vulnerable. Our ship seems out of control, our jib back-winded. The waves and thunderous storm seem to engulf us and we can’t see the light that will come with the end of the storm. When we do see others suffering as we do, we find a common bond and take great joy in whatever little help we can give our fellow man. Eventually the storm subsides, we begin to see the light, and reach out to touch our loved ones.
Marcus Kuiland-Nazario in collaboration with Martin Cox
Drift, 2011. Video Still. Courtesy of the artist.
Wrapped under covers of bedding, performance artist Marcus Kuiland-Nazario delves into sleeping habits and the search for comfort in his interactive work set to an original electronic score by composer Aaron Drake and staged with projected photographs created in collaboration with photographer Martin Cox. During this time of quarantine and both welcome and unwelcome sleep patterns and habits, Marcus has returned to revisit this work. The live performance is set to a dream like sound score, composed by Aaron Drake for Drift. Marcus emerges among the projections as a blob covered in bedding and blankets. Underneath he is blindfolded and wearing headphones (how he sleeps) in a cross between Butoh and Martha Stewart he emerges from the cocoon, makes his bed, gets cozy, removes the headphones and sleep mask, He then proceeds to interview the audience about their sleep patterns, then has volunteers who are a couple, prepare the bed as they would to go to sleep. It is a dreamy, seriously sill, meditation on sleep.
Susie McKay Krieser
Healing and Happiness – an Evolving Piece, 2020. Acrylic Paint and Lacquer on Aluminum. 48″ x 96”. Photo by the Artist. Courtesy of the artist.
MY SISTER’S RECENT DEATH, COVID19, PROTESTS, RIOTS, LOOTING = DEPRESSION AND FEAR, NOT UNDERSTANDING. How do I find light, while facing darkness? The chaotic movement in the lines represent mayhem swirling around me, while the good vibrations of color, on a cellular level, bring peace to my heart and heal my soul. My quest is to help others feel the goodness surrounding us, and the spiritual, white light shining down, uniting and protecting us all.