Like so many things, it all started on Facebook.
A few weeks prior to beginning this project I got into one of those pointless political debates on Facebook. I almost never engage with the FB trolls, as it seems like such a pointless method for trying and change someone’s mind. However when I was challenged for posting an article detailing the importance of the arts, following the Trump budget proposal that included completely cutting off federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, I reacted with a fervent impulse that I just could not contain. I was appalled at this person’s response that art just simply doesn’t matter. There was no indication that they understood how often their own lives intersected with the arts, and they spoke with a blatant naivety about the impact of arts role in our society, be it through education, therapy, recreation, or any number of other avenues. While I encourage everyone to have their own opinions and priorities, this encounter stuck with me. In my life, art has been the one constant. It was at the heart of my education and now as an arts administrator it is my livelihood. The arts help feed my family and provide a home for us. In further reflection I realized that art wasn’t just a critical side-note to my life, art has both given me life and saved my life repeatedly since childhood.
Living with the arts.
It wasn’t until I was christened into motherhood and facing a barrage of questions regarding my mental health as a test for postpartum depression that I really even realized that I had probably spent most of my life with anxiety and teetering on a state of depression. Seems like I might have noticed this, right? However, I come from a loving, supportive home, one where sadness and irrational fears were often suggested as an indicator that one simply needed more sleep, and uncontrollable tears were just a mood-swing or teenage hormones. Why would I have believed anything else? It turns out, as an adult (and probably most of my life) I am particularly prone to depression and fairly severe anxiety. These things often caused me to retreat to solitude in my younger years, but the silver lining is that I can confidently say it also fostered my love of the arts. In my darkest moments I found comfort, and clarity through a paintbrush and canvas. I was able to silently watch the world through a camera. I could document my feelings with the written word. I won’t claim to have become a fantastic artist, I didn’t, but instead I became someone who has a inherent need to create, and a drive to encourage a love of the arts among others who may need a means to ward off the darkness, or simply to share those things that aren’t so easily put into words. Perhaps along the way I will share a story or two of moments in my life when the arts saved me, but for now I will share that they have given meaning, support, and a purpose to my life for as long as I can recall. Art has given me life.
This is where you come in…
The arts are such an inherent part of who we are as humans, whether we realize it or not, and the connections we make on an emotional level with the arts and each other through the arts, is necessary to life. This blog was setup to share the stories of people, not unlike myself – artists and non-artists – who have in some way also been saved by art. This can be literally as so many young creatives I know have struggled with depression as I have, or it can be symbolically if art has somehow provided you a rebirth or reaffirmation of your own voice. Or perhaps in another way altogether. I simply hope to share your stories with the intent that others will read them, and together we can draw attention to the importance of the arts in our lives.
Guidelines on how contribute a story can be found by clicking “Share Your Story.”