Art As Understanding of Social Change

David Ross, an artist, an intellectual, and art curator came to UMF on September 26 to give a talk about art and social change.

 Coolest bar in town! Ross, never a bar guy, is a regular at  Dogwood  in Beacon, NY. The only bar he ever liked. And definitely a fav of mine. (https://www.upstatediary.com/david-a-ross/)

The time we live in is a complicated but a fascinating one, and so has every other time been that came before this one. Ross asked us in the audience, “how have we recorded our time?” There are lots of books and scholarly sources that detail the events and movements of history, but did you ever think about art as a capsule into past and current times? Art is an artist’s way of understanding and comprehending the time we are in.

As a seasoned art curator and intellectual, Ross has come to a conclusion that, “art makes us think why we think what we think.” That’s a lot to unpack, let’s read that again. “Art makes us think why we think what we think,” about social change and about what the generation coming of age is going through. Art as a collective is a display of multifaceted and multimedia interpretations of the world around us. To create art, you must effectively stop, stare, think and finally, create an interpretation. Your interpretation.

Our fast paced culture has everyone missing out on the critical catharsis and contemplation of the times in which we live. Ross believes in the power of art museums “as places that talk about the idea of slowing down.” The act of going to an art museum — taking perhaps the better part of an afternoon, at least — to observe, absorb, and to think will provoke new thoughts and stimulate our minds to insights about our world.

Ross has done lots of observation and contemplation of his surroundings which has led him to believe that the “problem in our culture is the need for quiet, slow reflection.” In our current time, especially, is it important to document, reflect, and contemplate silently.

The individual conundrums which we all experience can be better understood by creating our own art. In this way, museums play a crucial role for the sanity of the people. Ross whole heartedly expressed that, “museums can effect change.” Museums as an “open forum among artists” provide space for us to “slow down” and evaluate and react to social change.

Do you have a message about our time? You do? Great! Put your message out there however you can. As Ross and many other thinkers have said, “art is art,” make it however and what you will, just make it meaningful.

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