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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Believe That Art Can Redeem

A recent spate of news articles tells how the now infamous Casey Anthony who was suspected of killing her two year old daughter, was beginning a new life as a photographer. As expected the responses to this were pretty negative. Many felt at the time and still do that Casey should have been convicted for the death of her daughter and should not be out on the streets now.

Another infamous case of last year was that of George Zimmerman who shot and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin. He was also found not guilty. He turned to art for a short time, selling some rather pitiful looking paintings to cover his debt due to his trial. Again many think he should still be behind bars. 
Both of these cases share several things in common. That they both turned to arts and creativity after their heinous crimes I find an interesting parallel. I admit I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. As I said in the title, I truly believe that art can redeem even the worst of people. In fact I would go further and say that art may be one of the few areas open to people who are so totally shunned by the community around them. 

Do I feel either of these people are turning to their creative sides for the right reasons? No, I must honestly say that in the case of George Zimmerman especially he was just using art and has not a lick of creative talent. The case for what Casey will do with her budding career is still to be seen.

But this comes back to motive. I've seen many amazing stories about convicted felons and murderers on death row who turned to art in order to find some semblance of peace and expression in their lives. They even have prison art shows now. But I think that people get confused. They think its a gimmick or a ploy such as in the case of George Zimmerman. But if we can understand the motive, then I think we have an obligation to support those who turn to the arts when all else has left their lives.

I think we also have an obligation, regardless of what we think of her, to give Casey Anthony a chance to allow art to change her life. It will not wipe away the crime she has committed, but it may help cleanse the heart and soul which committed the crime.

There is something that takes place in the spirits of every man and woman when art is added. It opens new pathways up that can help. Even infamous murderer Charles Manson turns to art which is often confiscated immediately after he makes it so that it can't be smuggled out and sold on Ebay. But I somehow doubt that Charlie makes his art to sell. What would be the purpose? I think he makes it to exorcise those demons within him. Does it make him sane? Noooo. But it make be the one way he can express himself in a way that harms no one else.

Turning to our creative side to allow us expression even in the worst of situations is perhaps the most human thing we can do.

So while we may cringe at someone who has committed a notorious crime turning towards art and while I personally get a bit sick to my stomach when I see it in a person like George Zimmerman, I must take a step back and look at the broader picture. Art ultimately can heal. Whether these people will allow it to do so is not for me to question. But if I dig in my heals and say that these people give art a bad name, I am missing something crucial in my own humanity to deny it to them.


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