August 2016

Art = Risk Taking

Friday, Aug 5, 2016

Making good art means taking risks.
Most of the time when I make a statement like that I mean that you need to try new things – experiment and the like. Last week for me it meant standing on a ledge, on a ladder, twenty-some feet off the pavement, leaning against the Separation Wall in Palestine.
This leads me to the other sort of risk an artist has to make from time to time: creating out of one’s convictions. I was once having dinner with international artist and theologian Mako Fujimura and he spoke of “Artist as Prophetic Voice”. That is, that artists need to be truth tellers. Artists need to be agents for engagement with issues.
This issue is personal for me. It’s personal because my brother-in-law is Palestinian (his family is part of the ever shrinking Christian population there). It’s personal because for the last two years I have helped lead Art Camps for Palestinian youth and have been confronted by their reality. It’s a complicated part of the world, and while I can understand some of the reasons the wall was built (separating Israel and Palestine), mainly it just seems like a maximum security prison wall that cuts off people I love from resources and enflames the underlying conflict.  I don’t have the space to unpack it all here but that’s the bonus of being an artist – I can let the art speak for itself.
This is called “Balancing the Peaceful Kingdom”, based on Isaiah 11. You may read into it as you like. I’d love for you to share this and to comment on what you see. (Try to “balance” your comments please – we could all use a little more balance these days.)