Expressing artistic creativity in times like these feels uncomfortable. With all of the things we take for granted while others endure torment, even simple pleasures feel self-indulgent. Grief can seem a constant companion. In my experience, grief is profoundly personal, takes many forms, and doesn't just go away with time. Further traumas can set it off and grief can be cumulative.
I've been painting for more than 40 years. One thing I've come to realize is that grief is a wellspring for remarkable art. I don't mean that remarkable art is deeply sad. Or that grief is "good." Rather, it is through the wrenching experience of grief that one can begin to understand and appreciate the full spectrum of what it means to be alive.
Working alongside grief, with a little luck, and maybe a good therapist, one can better appreciate its opposite—joy. It's about feeling and expressing the contrast, and balance, and emotion—things an artist labors to master in order to make remarkable art. For most of us it's a life-long, work-in-progress. Having a clear-eyed view of the extremes gives "center" a placeholder. From this centered place, remarkable art emerges in the most turbulent of times.
It feels urgent to identify and choose the things we do in our lives that bring us closer to personal and collective equilibrium. For many of us, art-making is one way to do that.
So please--say it, sing it, dance it, paint it, write it, play it, compose it. Do your thing. Ask for help when you need it. Help others when you can. Keep going.
Art teaches us what it means to be human. We have much to learn.
See my available work here.
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings cultivate connection to the lands she explores.
©2021 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.