Art Beyond Our Usual Understandings

by Art & Survival on

“Wise men hear and see as little children”… (Lao-TZU)   

Let’s examine together how we might resuscitate and breath new life into our collective human experience; How we might embrace a fresh childlike wonder. With an open-hearted inquiry, let us explore what is essential to a sustainable way of being fully human, fully alive: How we might move with clarity and passion toward achieving that sustainability: not out of despair, but rather out of inspiration; an inspiration born of clarity of vision; a vision that embraces the extraordinary.

As artists we have a tradition of challenging commonly held assumptions and beliefs that are driving our society’s time worn and profoundly dysfunctional actions. Never before has it been so obvious, so clear that our cultural drift is carrying us inexorably toward the cliff… Lets examine our motivations, our powerful illusions that are driving us toward planetary ecocide. Let us together attempt to bring sanity to our deeply troubled planet.

Recently I was honored by the Earth Charter ( as a representative of the art community; being only one among the many who are exploring what we might do as artists to impact the ongoing drift carrying us to the edge of extinction. I am deeply touched and encouraged that the Earth Charter is acknowledging and honoring the Arts. Art offers us an opportunity to see the interwoven tapestry in all of life; to challenge our cultural dysfunction: a CULTure where independence is worshiped as a virtue.. This, at a time when acknowledging our interdependence is essential to our very survival. We seem unable to see what should be this all too obvious truth.

No matter how irrational our present actions as a society, we seem frozen in a hypnotic state that renders us incapable of moving beyond the confines of this illusion of independence; when in fact we’re connected to everything. Given this cultural roadblock, we must seriously question our actions as a people; whether a viable and sustainable world is even possible until we confront our inherently dysfunctional beliefs.

Clearly, we are a suicidal, genocidal society, rooted in a violently bloody and pathological past; that is today moving us toward mutual annihilation. Our survival as a global community is dependent upon our facing up to this fact. To continuously romanticize our past and our rugged individualism will continue to hold us captive as we follow the path to species extinction.

Believing that our struggles are ours alone creates an unnecessary burden. Let us rather see that these struggles are a part of the universal human experience that you and I are briefly passing through. To see that these experiences are unique to us alone, creates an unnecessary and unrealistic burden.

The fact is, we are all interdependent- dependent upon each other and upon that vast web of life that supports us. We ignore this at our peril. The Earth Charter Declaration of Interdependence is simply an acknowledgment of this fundamental reality.

Also, let us not confine and isolate the arts from life for the convenience of those who create and benefit from our illusions of separation and division. We are all artists and children-painting the canvas of our lives; singing our song; dancing our tune and molding and shaping our lives. Yes, these are all acts of creation, a potential celebration of this wondrous life we are given.

We might find vision and power in seeing ourselves and each other as living, unfolding art forms.


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