I spent 12 hours yesterday working on a two minute clip, concerned with things like light, sound, makeup, and squinty eyes. A largely self involved project that involved me looking at my own face way more than is comfortable on camera — though it is actually my job to do it sometimes, it can be somewhat horrifying. And then I logged on online, wearing too much makeup and jacked up on five Starbucks double shots, to discover over 153 people are dead in Paris, and Japan has been hit by another tsunami.
And sat here thinking, Jesus, I was obsessing over eyeliner while 153 people were dying.
There is a terrible thing that happens to artists in the face of tragedy. This sinking feeling that all of our struggles are meaningless and small in the face of death and mayhem.
It’s a message perpetuated during times of no tragedy. That art is “not a real job.” That art is “not meaningful.”
Artists shove past that most days. We have to. But when real mayhem and tragedy strikes, that message echoes again in our minds and it’s easy to cave and believe it. That whisper we’ve heard since we started on this path and that we will continue to hear until the day we die following this path.
Don’t. Artists are the voice of possibility in the midst of tragedy. The visionaries who can see a better future and can share that vision with others. Who can give voice to a nation and peoples’ pain. And its healing. Who can paint an image that brings others together to rally. Who can give voice to hopes of healing. Of unity. Of peace. And remembrance of those lost. But only —
If artists keep going.
I’m trying not to.