Creating art in the face of difficulty, personal and global -- that is, art that is resistant, does not simultaneously mean it must be art that is anti-.
Resistance starts with a stance that is for good, for life, for _______. If not, it's empty antagonism. We resist evil because we have tasted and seen there is actually GOOD.
Which is to say, we pay attention to it. We trust it. The cracks let in light. We are foolish enough to believe that means something. We care enough to see, really see, the suffering of humanity because we love, really love, our neighbors. And so on. It's like they say, the discipline of resistance is the work of both the battler and the builder.
I forget this. I forget that they are intertwined, interdependent. That we need folks who draw attention to the crookedness and devastation in our society. And that we also need folks busy imagining and living into a different way of relating, of working, than what is there and is flawed.
We need both. We need courage to call out what's wrong, but we also need courage to live like what's good is possible, is already here, is already with us.
We need people who live like we have time to make handmade pottery and delight in it, despite the darkness of our lives. We need that kind of hopefulness.
We need people who spend hours tasting varieties of cucumbers to find the finest one. We need that kind of attention to remind us that we were not made to live the way we live now: so fragmented, so anxious.
This all makes sense and is very obvious when I write it out like that. But it puts meaning behind what I've been feeling without words: that every activity against the pressure to succumb to despair or meaninglessness is, by nature, an act of resistance. That everything good will, for this reason, be costly.
That ultimately, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against cosmic powers in this dark, dark world.
And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. Yes, stand—truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Wow. Look at some of our weaponry of resistance: Truth. Righteousness. Good news of peace. Faith. Word.
So as an artist, if I feel the draw to make work engaging with the idea of, for instance, depression. I can make depressed work. I can make depression-awareness work. But the work that resists the dark dark world, the draw of suicide, the draw of numbness -- that would actually not be work that centers on depression at all. It would be to make work that celebrates LIFE, that celebrates tenacity and grit.
It would be to write a hundred love letters to living in this particular world.
It would be to create work that opens wide the cracks that let in light for truth, for faith, for good news.
At funerals we resist the power of death by remembering, upholding, celebrating the passed one's life. It's the same concept entirely.
The role of the artist is often to make the unseen visible. Anc calling attention and celebration to the light, as well as the darkness, is necessary in order to reignite our hope and our imagination to carry on.