Now is a Great Time to Start Making Art
In times of fear, anger and uncertainty, beautiful work is waiting to be made.
I’m currently reading the fantastic book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War by Adam Hochschild, and I can’t help but draw parallels to the Spanish Civil War and post-2016 election America.
The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939, was a battle between fascism (Nationalists) and progress (Republicans). On the left, communists, socialists, anarchists, revolutionaries and artists banned together to fight oppression and conservatism. Their fight was hard, and ultimately ended in defeat (and the beginning of WWII), but their efforts inspired some of the greatest works in art and literature — works inspired by artists who were feeling pain and sadness for progress’ fall: Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, the latter two writers both spending time in Spain during the war — Hemingway as a journalist and Orwell as a Republican fighter.
With the results of the 2016 election, I felt the urge to do something I haven’t thought about doing in a long time: to write a private diary. This diary is not because I want to hide my thoughts, emotions and opinions from others — on the contrary, I’ve been quite vocal on social media since November 8th — but because I want to have an in-depth chronicle of what I, and society, was going through at the time. I plan to use these pages of thoughts and emotions now, and at a later time, to inspire my writing and art.
You see, we just witnessed something bigger than many of us Americans have ever witnessed. For me, as a millennial, the only event equal in national reaction was the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Events such 9/11 and the 2016 presidential election not only define our generation, they also shape who we are. They permeate our souls and psyches, gnawing at and stirring our emotions. And for this reason, now is the best time for us to channel that energy into art.
Many of us are feeling waves of sadness, anger, fear and confusion. Consider using these emotions to create a piece of writing, a painting or a new song. Maybe you’ll make the next Guernica or For Whom the Bell Tolls. By creating such work, not only will we help ease our own pain, we will also give later generations a glimpse into the past — and hopefully help prevent history from repeating itself.