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Saturday, July 4, 2015

When the Artist Must Speak Despite the Consequences


A person who goes to extremes, especially in political matters.

A supporter or advocate of extreme doctrines or practices.

"The Crucifixion of Free Thought"

My art is my voice. I once had delusions of being a professional writer, but I found out quickly that my destiny was to speak through my creations.

I've been an activist from the start of my artistic career. I didn't plan on it. But my views often come out in the pieces I am working on. My focus is extremism in all forms. Anything that divides instead of unites infuriates me. And that often takes the form of statements against religion.

I didn't set off on this course, but we live in a time where extremist views seek to divide and conquer the unity of the world and I am not one to keep my mouth shut when I see persons or groups demanding things of others.

Many of my pieces have been outright attacks on extremists within organized religion. I make no secret of my disdain for them.

Examples include a huge 6' x 6' canvas that depicts the twelve apostles roasting in hell with Jesus Christ dead in the center of the cave of entombment, blood dripping from hands and feet. Towards the bottom is a headless preacher testifying to an assembly of the dead and three skeletons hanging on crosses at Golgotha. Another piece includes a very old King James bible with all the pages missing except the book of Leviticus (yeah the part about gays going to hell and stuff). Cracks run across it as if its about to shatter and a skeleton key and skull rest to either side of it.

Subtle huh?

The point is that sometimes as artists we MUST speak. Art teaches. It forces conversations and debate. It makes us face the unfortunate realities of our world. I sometimes envy artists who can paint beautiful beach scenes and and pleasant forest trails. Unfortunately I can't.

I've been warned on many occasions to beware what I create because there are some very vengeful people out there. But are we really better people for taking the easy path? Does it serve anyone to just hope others will speak for us? I personally do not think so.

I don't think artists are alone in this. Creatives from many different disciplines act as sounding boards and speak when others either remain mute or cannot speak at all.

I remember in the 80's Jeffrey Osborn writing an amazing song called "Soweto". This was the era of Apartheid and the song was very powerful. I was pretty young then and I'd never had any dealing with politics or causes but it was strong enough to me that I went and attended an anti-Apartheid rally on the steps of the Michigan State capitol building. The creativity of that man spoke to me in such a way that I took steps to learn about what Apartheid was and rally against it.

This is the power that art has.

Now that I am nearing 50 years old, I can say that I've learned that lesson over and over again and I would like to think that its made me a better man.

Now on this night I am approaching something that I am again being told "DON'T". While my focus for quite sometime has been on evangelical extremists and climate deniers. I am going to begin work on a piece that focuses on Islam. Yes I hear your gasp and sense you shaking your head. "The boy ain't got no sense". And its true, I probably don't.

Evangelicals are pussy's compared to the Islamist's. A die hard evangelical Christian will picket you, spit at you and use the power of the media to try and destroy your reputation. Islamist's will just drive a car through your house and blow it up.

But the threat of death should not stop a person from speaking. In fact it should be an incentive to force us to speak through whatever means at our disposal.

This does not mean that we should be loud or ignorant or bigoted. What it does mean is that we speak as eloquently as possible, as diplomatically as possible and with as little hurt to people as we can. And mostly we use the talents we have to create that voice.

So with all this said, I will continue to develop this new piece because it must be done. I hope you speak with the talents you have also. If we all speak then the voices of hate and division are drowned out...someday for good.



Just a note to those following. I am waiting on a specific item I need for this piece. So when it ships to me then I will begin work on it and post it during development.

The item I was waiting for has arrived and is better suited to what I wish to make than I expected. I will be beginning the piece in the next day or so and will update as it goes along.

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