Javier’s art teacher asked him to draw something for the school field day. Ever the creative munchkin he is, he got together with his friend, Lorenzo and drew a baby Yoda as a work of public art. Classmates gathered around, commented, laughed, played, shared. Javier solicited ideas from the group and incorporated them into the drawing. When they were done, the public space was reclaimed by the rain and trampling foot traffic.
The little group coalesced, created something fun and delightful, and left the situation better for it. There was no physical artifact left, the chalk long dissolved, but the experience, a tangible connection was carried away from that moment. Javier helped foment community, expression, social awareness, culture, and friendship.
“You know, Javier, I think it’s really neat what you did. It’s a shame that art isn’t more valued in society. I wish that artists were more valued. I wish they could earn a decent living without having to scrap and save. People just don’t know how much they need art and artists in their lives.
Look at what Hasan Minhaj talked about on his show, Patriot Act, last night. Why do you think so many people have fallen victim to opiates and addiction? There’s this malaise, this existential crisis, some kind of void that people can’t fill, so they numb themselves from physical and metaphysical pain.
Individuals don’t seem to be acutely aware of how important art in their lives. Sure, they get hungry and buy food or other physical artifacts. Maybe we don’t value it because it doesn’t satisfy a physical need or some compulsion to hoard for later. But even though art may not be physical sustenance, it feeds us in ways we don’t realize.
We are starving, emaciated, and ravenous from a hunger so potent that we are literally willing to die for it. We feel something, but don’t know what to call it. We address that emptiness with more emphasis on concrete subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Busy yourselves, we are told, step back, don’t think so deeply about things. Get on about the work, productivity, distract yourself from your pain by activity. Best not to think about all that touchy feely, philosophical bullshit. It’ll just keep you down.
We are not automatons, meant to produce widgets for profit all the days of our lives. We need to share in creation. We need to have a space to both create and enjoy the creation of others. Instead of zoning out, distracting, forgetting, we need to remember we all in it together, and that when we come together something wonderful happens. Musical performance. Public art. Community art. All these things enrich us in ways that are not immediately apparent, but no less important.