In my conversation with theatre Director Mark Booher, Mark shares about his first experience with theatre when he was in high school. He immediately found acceptance and community there. He argues that we all have a need to be known, and that art is a key way to know ourselves, have others know us, and relate to each other. He argues that art is an antidote to despair.
So why are we not all partaking in this?
Sadly, “we create division where we’re meant for integration”, according to Mark. We see this in every aspect of humanity: race, gender, politics, class, demographics, and even the church. While it can be very difficult to overcome cultural differences, political viewpoints, and socio-economic inequalities, art should be a safe place where people can share, be known, relate, and appreciate each other.
This is not to say all art should be the same and all creative people should agree. On the contrary, there needs to be diversity in art. But there needs to be an acceptance and appreciation for that diversity. Interestingly, unity can be built in diversity.
We were built for community. We were designed for relationship. The family unit, friendship, the gathering church, government–these were set up to safe-guard against isolation. You’d think since we are wired for community it would be effortless to maintain, but instead our modern Western culture makes it difficult. There are lots of factors for this: geography, technology, media, etc.
When we forsake relationships and don’t partake in community living, we fast become a culture that lacks empathy, loses perspective thinking, breeds discontentment, has extreme behaviors, and regresses rather than progresses. We become internally frustrated, unable to process our emotions, work through our thoughts, and find fulfillment in anything. In short, despair.
Sound familiar in this current day of rampant narcissism?
I know full-well that there are many problems with many factors, and I’m not saying that our culture will be righted if we simply take up painting and pottery and join writing groups. But these things can bring healing for sure. Being able to express and process the internal by means of an exterior venue is so healthy.
I have been challenged to get over my own insecurities, take risks, and share my creativity. This blog has been one step in that. Getting my writing out there has been another. And every time I partake in creative community I am energized, challenged, and inspired in so many ways. I swallow an antidote to despair.
I try to attend a writer’s conference at least once a year. A few years ago I hosted a writing group. Last week I co-hosted an art night at my church. I’m in the works of starting a ‘creative expression club’ that will meet once a month and share projects. And on a day-to-day basis I have open conversations and brainstorming sessions with my husband and close friends.
Whatever your creative bent is don’t be afraid to partake in its community. We all need to be known. We all need to belong. We all need community. We all have a tribe out there. We just need to show up.