Issue #149 / May 2021
Should we separate the artist from the art?
SHELLY, AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND
What is your definition of hope?
CARLOS, RECIFE, BRAZIL
Dear Shelly and Carlos,
I don’t think we can separate the art from the artist, nor should we need to. I think we can look at a piece of art as the transformed or redeemed aspect of an artist, and marvel at the miraculous journey that the work of art has taken to arrive at the better part of the artist’s nature. Perhaps beauty can be measured by the distance it has travelled to come into being.
That bad people make good art is a cause for hope. To be human is to transgress, of that we can be sure, yet we all have the opportunity for redemption, to rise above the more lamentable parts of our nature, to do good in spite of ourselves, to make beauty from the unbeautiful, and to have the courage to present our better selves to the world.
The moon is high and yellow in the sky outside my window. It is a display of sublime beauty. It is also a cry for mercy — that this world is worth saving. Mostly, though, it is a defiant articulation of hope that, despite the state of the world, the moon continues to shine. Hope too resides in a gesture of kindness from one broken individual to another or, indeed, we can find it in a work of art that comes from the hand of a wrongdoer. These expressions of transcendence, of betterment, remind us that there is good in most things, rarely only evil. Once we awaken to this fact, we begin to see goodness everywhere, and this can go some way in setting right the current narrative that humans are shit and the world is fucked.