(Painting by Sandy Deluca)
Art isn’t supposed to be easy, safe, cozy, warm and by-the-numbers. Can it be an intellectual and emotional sanctuary? Of course, but it’s also supposed to be challenging, and at times, even threatening. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to offend and be confrontational. It’s supposed to make you think about things you’d often rather not, and in ways you might not otherwise—about yourself as well as others—it’s supposed to push envelopes and provide you with a personal experience that speaks to you in ways only art can, and that’s not to say it can’t (or shouldn’t be) entertaining, therapeutic, educational, compassionate, healing and even (hopefully) transcendent whenever possible, but what it shouldn’t be is pointless (unless that’s the ultimate point or irony is in play), common, politically correct and insulated to protect those who can’t handle it, or for those it may upset in some way, profoundly or not. That’s for each individual to negotiate, not the responsibility of the artist. While we should reject being gratuitous, the last thing any artist should ever do is censor him or herself or fall into some sort of group-think. But that’s not to say artists have no responsibility, as we most certainly do. Our responsibility is to the integrity of the art, to the truth in our art. Which is why, as artists, we should never run from the fire, but instead, directly into it. We’re supposed to burn. There’s no point to those fires otherwise. If one has to look away, fine, but don’t expect the artist to do something differently because looking into those flames pains you somehow. Sometimes it’s supposed to hurt—for both of us—and hopefully, through that pain, we eventually find peace, or at a minimum, purpose in both the art and ourselves.