Something about being in crisis and isolated from our normal routines triggers our brains to call up dark and dusty corners of our psyche we don’t usually see. In these corners live things like anxiety, gloom, and uneasiness.
Each of us has our own ways of dealing with these things and, for many of us, producing or experiencing art can provide the antidotes of pleasure, escape, and increased understanding.
For example, through the protagonist of Albert Camus’ The Plague, published in 1947, we experience many of the same issues facing us today. Is caring for a contagious population a moral duty? Or is it simple human decency? Do we shelter our loved ones when we put ourselves at risk or do they share the risk with us? How can we live our lives with a sense of normalcy, with a tender indifference to the virus?
When experiencing stress that begins to go beyond what words can express, we can find refuge in listening to opera. In the huge dramatic peaks and valleys of opera, emotions overflow in song and, for a moment, the burden of these emotions in our own lives are lifted away by the music and singers’ voices.
Three people I know—Carol Lange, the late Julie Ross, and my younger daughter Johanna―have found expression and relief through painting.
Whether an atmospheric, calming depiction of a rainy day (Carol), a delicate watercolor of a flowery field (Julie), or a punchy bouquet of cheerful flowers (Johanna), painting provides both release in the creation and pleasure from the viewing of the artwork.
Art offers us different ways to experience and view the world, and allows us to share the viewpoints and perspectives of its creators.
Please consider contributing to Artistic Antidotes―an image of your art, a poem, a song, a book that speaks to you―the ways art impacts your life as we build a “library” of shared resources for exploration, experience, creativity, and respite.