Can Art Help Us Heal?
Muralists moved us. Kedron Bryant brought us to tears. And artists from Israel, Ireland, Kenya and Arkansas have memorialized George Floyd with beautiful, brilliant, unforgettable work.
Because of them, we have seen how art can encapsulate rage. We've seen how it can inspire people to act, to take to the streets in droves and cry, yell, beg for justice. But I wanted to know--can art heal?
I want to believe it can. Apparently, so does Harvard. But I don't know your hurt. I don't know your rage, or your pain, because I can't. As a straight white male, I can never know the omnipresent pain coursing through the veins of our black, Latinx, LGBTQ and trans brothers and sisters. I can listen, though.
Some of my colleagues shared that art has indeed helped them heal. They pointed to artists on Instagram who have brought a little light to their corner of the world. Another colleague pointed out the power of street vendors:
"I get so inspired," she said. "Being aware that they are creating art as a means to provide for their families and send their kids to school draws me in even more. So many times I've bought pieces that have spoken to my heart and left me feeling whole." After hearing this, I wanted to believe that art can heal.
I saw something that looked like healing when I joined some of my neighbors at a recent creative outpouring honoring George Floyd. I can't say with certainty that this healed anyone, or that the centuries of wounds inflicted on black men and women can ever be healed. But I want to listen.
What work of art has made you heal? Share in the comments below, and tag us so we can listen and learn. That's what we're here for now, tomorrow, and always.
Remember Me, George Floyd by Otha "Vakseen" Davis