No Time for Paralysis!
Since the election, I have been thinking a lot about the role of the artist in society. Can we make a difference? Can we use our voice/our work to speak truth to power, to rally others to action. I have had a difficult time seeing a way forward with the control of all 3 branches of government by one party, the gerrymandering of Congressional districts, voter suppression laws and the purging of voter rolls. For days, I was dazed. I have had a difficult time comprehending that so many Americans could embrace the racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and thinly-veiled Anti-Semitism that Trump so willfully espoused on the campaign trail and that others who did not embrace this exactly, were willing to look past this and give this demagogue their vote. And then, I had to shake myself and take the actions that I could. I began by calling my Senators and Congressman. I began to think that even small things might make a difference and I began making the Ribbons and giving them away.
Then, the cast of Hamilton stood up, literally and figuratively, and respectfully and full-throatedly, beseeched the Vice-President Elect to assure the country that the incoming administration intended to protect the rights of all Americans.
“We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
Instead of responding in the way any normal politician would–with platitudes and assurances, Pence, simply turned and walked out. At 5:56 a.m. Trump TWEETED out an angry response, turning it into a far larger incident than it would otherwise have been – A good example to all of us that small acts can make a difference.
It is more important than ever for those of us who are artists to reach beyond the rarefied atmosphere of the studio, gallery, museum, theater and concert hall and engage in action that can preserve the values that we so dearly share. I humbly encourage everyone who receives this email, to commit to taking at least one simple action a week – either through your artwork or through other advocacy. But, I beseech you, don’t simply stay in your studios. Those of you who are not artists, who have read this far, you have a seriously important role to play too. There is a new website, called Wall-of-Us that includes 4 simple acts that you can take each week. I hope that you will.