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May Day, Arts Month & Interdependent Awareness
Submitted by Patrick Groneman on Wed, 5/2/2012, 10:22am
by Patrick Groneman
(follow Patrick on Twitter)
Yesterday was a riveting day here in NYC. Protesters turned Broadway into a parade route to celebrate May Day, and to protest corporate greed, mass incarceration, deportation, education reform en masse.
(photo by Karsten Braaten licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License)
As May is Arts Month at IDP, some may ask “How are the Arts related to this kind of social change-making work?”
This is a good question! What does something like doing a drawings of trees have to do with something like dismantling corporate influence on our electoral politics?
Doing a drawing of trees helps me to see the world more clearly. It is both a practice with a goal -- of increasing my perceptual clarity -- and time to simply be present with some of my favorite leafy beings.
With that sharpened sense of perception, a stroll down the street takes on a new quality, and the process of looking unveils some pretty nasty things.
("Overflowing Trash Can", Community Art Project, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012 -- photo by Patrick Groneman)
One can get to asking "What is the cause of all this nastiness?"
What is the cause of litter on the streets, of environmental calamity, an obesity epidemic, large-scale starvation, childhood slavery, obliteration of indigenous cultures, and pervasive unhappiness?
This line of questioning could arrive you at a whole different perspective of the world. It could bring you to a place where litter on the ground is not just unsightly, an eye sore, it can also be seen as an embodiment of a systematic process.
In this way, “The Arts” become the bridge between our inner-world of thoughts, emotions and feelings, and the social and political systems that influence our lives.
In 1966 Dick Higgins, an experimental artist, known for his work with Fluxus, wrote the following:
"Having discovered tools with an immediate impact, for what are we going to use them?... there are dangerous forces at work in our world, isn’t it appropriate to ally ourselves against these, and to use what we really care about and love or hate as the new subject matter in our work?" --- from Statement on Intermedia
When the root of nastiness is found, it takes so much creative will-power and mindful presence to compassionately understand and transform it. That process can be ugly, confrontational, humbling, beautiful & enraging all at once. Energetically it can be both fulfilling and very, very draining.
And people all have different opinions about what is causing what, so much of social change-making becomes about education, both for ourselves and our communities.
Beyond being a “support” for social change-making efforts, creative practices are actively generating an alternative to current systems dynamics. Creating what some call “beauty” goes beyond negating or dismantling current system dynamics, it becomes a positive expression of what some call “Love”, others “communion”, and what a Buddhist might call “Interdependent Awareness.”
Framing social change-making as the “subject matter” of "our work" as creative human beings, offers space around the dynamics that bring things like "corporate greed" into being. It makes the whole situation workable as opposed to being frozen into a battle between “good” and “evil.”
"Transcending aggression is the root of all the artistic talent one can ever imagine" - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
May is Arts Month at IDP. All are invited to explore their perception, reception and creation of the phenomenal world through our various workshops, events and classes. Full Schedule & details are available here.
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by Alison G