Hello, Friend of the CAC
We are weeks into each of our unique COVID-19 experiences and I hope you're managing and staying safe. In my own lifetime there have been several catastrophes that have stopped the entire world in its tracks but never to the extent of this all-encompassing, awful pandemic.
In the past we were able to gather together and create what social critic Rebecca Solnit called "a paradise built in hell”, temporary, extraordinary communities of changed states of mind and social possibilities brought to life during times of major calamities.
However, COVID-19 prevents us to turn to a newfound community for shared purpose and resilience. We are thrown back into ourselves and the people we live with. Only our advanced technology facilitates our connectedness to friends, families, colleagues, and others around the globe who might share a passion with us.
How Can We Find Solace?
During this ambiguous and stressful time, I will share a few approaches to life I have learned in my long engagement with art, especially contemporary art, that I have found comforting. My hope is that they may provide you some comfort as well.
Art by its very nature is ambiguous. It generates divergent thoughts that are all equally valid. In a moment when we are desperate for certainty and clear-cut answers, art reminds us that life is constantly changing and that it is a human tendency to create a false sense of security and simplicity by planning and structuring, setting goals, and deliberately working towards them. There comes a moment, however scary, when we must submit ourselves to the fact that huge aspects of life are not in our control. This submission has its own value and wisdom. Enormous aspects of our lives lie in the hands of the unknown.
The great Italian painter, Francesco Clemente once said to me that art taught him to “rest in change.” Art's truth is that it can guide us to appreciate and get comfortable with life’s inevitably and continuously changing path.
This week we are featuring a talk Do-Ho Suh gave at the CAC a few years ago. I have a small print by the artist in my home that I absolutely cherish. It shows the torso of a man, a self-portrait of the artist, with the shape of a house pushing through his chest.
Over the years I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about the notion of home and have read extensively about it. I have wrestled with the ambiguity of the word. Home. Is it a place? A state of mind? A nostalgic impulse or something to work towards? When I first saw this print I was overwhelmed with emotions that an artist could in one image capture so powerfully how I myself have often felt. There he is, literally pierced through the torso with the shape of a house, wearing a contemplative expression, if not somber.
Yes, home is a place, a state of mind, a nostalgic impulse, and something to work toward. Home itself is always changing yet somehow lodged permanently in our core.
What Can We Do?
We like things to mean one thing and to always stay the same, univocal, stable and safe. Holding on to a plan that no longer works, or obsessively thinking about things we cannot control will provoke a lot of mental stress. When things have changed as radically as they have, we too must change. What that change looks like in our lives is hard to say and will mean many different things for different people. But being open to change, to ambiguity and complexity is a great first step in the right direction.
The CAC is a home permanently, and ambiguously lodged in my chest: a home for creativity, the complexities of our world, diverse people, differing thoughts, and myriad aspirations. I am grateful for your consistent support in an ever-changing world as we navigate these strange and unchartered waters. Let us wade out into them with mindful, brave steps, like true artists.
Let's Stay Connected!
For now, CAC remains closed to the public for physical visits, but we're happy to be able to welcome you to our digital channels where you can find virtual exhibitions, prompts for artmaking at home, our view videos of artist talks and more!
This week we wanted to highlight a few for you:
- Our Instagram feed will feature some interactive art-making from two of our favorite Artists in Residence, Simone Yael and Julia Lipovsky.
- You can also check out our social channels for Thursday Art Play at 10am every Thursday for art at home acvities, and later in the day at 4pm, our Young Adult Lab wll have virtual making activites as well.
We have also updated our YouTube Channel with some inspiring videos from artist talks from our archive, including:
- Do Ho Suh, on his work, Passages. It's especially timely now, as we think about the ways we move (or don't) through the world today and how our view of what passages mean might be changing forever.
- Sandra Cinto, speaking about the Contemplation Room, where she talks about the inspiration she drew from the beach in Brazil where people of all ages, races backgrounds gather together in celebrations of hope, peace and joy. We can't be together now, of course, but her vibrant description gives us hope for a future where we can.
- Swoon, a favorite from last year, on her work The Canyon. It's an inspiring talk, and she also shows some love to our great city on the river, Cincinnati.
We'll keep updating you weekly about upcoming options for engagement in these strange times! We want more than anything to stay connected to you, but also to find ways to bring contemporary art and artists to you where you are in ways that give you solace, respite and hope.