Thursday, February 4, 2010

Artistic Adventures of an Ardent Amateur: The Healing Arts

Hello Readers!

I’ve been absent round these parts lately, as I’m in the midst of preparing for an enormous life change and everything has seemed just a little overwhelming. To calm my anxiety I’ve been listening to music by some of my favorite artists, and in doing so I found inspiration for this post.

I am a big believer in the healing power of art. As a form of expression higher than those normally accessible to us in our everyday lives, art has the ability to transform pain, and to forge from suffering a greater truth, beauty, and wisdom that can then be shared with the world at large. In my vision of utopia, everyone creates art from their pain and everyone enjoys the artistic works of others in one cosmic cathartic concert.

For myself, I find writing and acting to be the most useful for processing my own experiences, but I gain a great deal of spiritual salve from listening to music. Annie’s recent Twirl your stress away post reminded me of the circumstances of the creation of Corinne Bailey Rae’s latest album, and I thought the intersection of joyful celebration and sorrowful song would make a pitch-perfect addition to this post.

Ms. Rae lost her husband in March of 2008 to an accidental overdose. She says of her new album, "I wanted to be open. I'm really aware that I can't hide any of my feelings. With music I feel like it's the one time when I don't have to think and I don't have to contrive anything. So that's how this record turned out. It's not contrived. It's just open."

In her post Haiti & Art Therapy, blogger Roxanne Samer briefly outlines the artistic depth of the nation in crisis, and gives a quick list of Haitian artists whose work may provide a deeper understanding of Haiti’s culture and history. “In both Haiti itself as well as with Haitians living outside the country, people are turning to creative expressivity to respond to the pain that they are feeling. I suggest that all of us do the same as well. Create but also listen, view, read or watch.”

As for my own emotional comfort, I have returned, as I always do, to the work of an artist whose epic lyricism and unflinching honesty have guided me through the viscid darknesses of all my life’s enormous changes for the last ten years: Ani DiFranco. Perhaps it is selfish and foolish of me, but when I turn to the work of Ms. DiFranco for catharsis and healing, the lyrics of her song I’m No Heroine allow me to imagine myself her target audience: “I hope somewhere, some woman hears my music/And it helps her through her day.”

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