When I was up at my physical theater alma mater a few weeks ago, I was deeply moved by the work I saw happening there. Not that all of it was good – in fact, some was totally yack-worthy – but I was enthralled to remember that there are places where art and emotions can flow and be challenged and felt without resistance or cynicism.  It was a nice change from the shiny sarcasm of Hollywood.

It got me thinking about a quote I heard somewhere, if anyone knows it please correct me, that the measure of a society’s happiness throughout history can be directly linked to their appreciation and supports of the arts and artists.

Here I am in a super-power country (on the brink of collapse, in my opinion), where there is both a creative renaissance and a massacre of the arts happening in synchronicity, in a world where violent atrocities are often the currency of the day.  (Or, at least, in a world where we have the ability and technology to KNOW about the atrocities that are being committed in real-time…)

I can’t help but feel that, in the US at least, if art and artistic expression weren’t relegated to the edges of “acceptable” means of living, we’d have a lot more emotionally mature people running the world.

Art exists to evoke. To provoke. To bring up all the stuff and feelings and let you sort through them. Particularly the live experience of art – at a show, in a gallery, creating yourself.

I once saw a grown man cry in front of a painting in the Met in NYC. It was astonishing, and deeply touching. What if that were the norm? Would there be any need to express oneself through violence, through extremism, through sarcasm and meanness if we were allowed to truly feel, and to feel in public? I can’t help but think the balance between reason and passion would be better served.

This is obviously an enormously complicated topic – it’s still subject to my half-formed ramblings – but if anyone has thoughts, I’d love to start the conversation.