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Help Desk 4 Creatives: Art a Tool of Reflection, Refuge and Renewal

By Merritt Minnemeyer
arttimesjournal January 11, 2018

Be the change

Celebrating the New Year is my favorite part of the holidays. I am a renewal junkie. If I had the means, (and lacked responsibilities) I would move into a new house every couple of years. My husband, bless him, puts up with my incessant rotation of new household linens, décor items, and paint colors in our home. In a time in my career when I am largely focused on the creativity of others, my home becomes my stage and my canvas; they are the tools I use to express my gratitude, my aspirations, and my subliminal directives for the year to come.

There is a trend of late in the blogosphere that addresses the role of art as a tool of reflection, of refuge, and yes, renewal. Much attention is being given to the ways in which artists are processing the feelings and ideas born since the 2016 election and the subsequent political events. (Take, for example the article on, link below). In our office, our community’s sense of being battered around by the public turmoil and vitriol that abounds of late is palpable, no matter where one falls on the political spectrum. The energy vacillates between resolve to “be the change” and the defeat of perpetual bruising.

finger painting

Artists have a unique opportunity to frame our collective experiences. Whether using a myopic lens or a panoramic one, the views we cast are at once personal and universal. We have the means to take part in a global conversation through our gifts. Telling a story with words, sound, or light - each creative offering can be a conduit to meet some essential human need. This is not just flowery thinking; science bears out that when a person feels connected to another, and when a community feels invested in its own thriving, all parties may benefit. Arts in schools have a direct correlation to higher student attendance and achievement. An influx of artists in a neighborhood is a bellwether of investment and development to follow. (For more specific research on these phenomena, see links below.)

Be the change

Perhaps you have been burdened with anxiety over the last year. Or perhaps you are thriving and would like to help others to do the same. As an artist, you have an invaluable skill set. You bring beauty. You provoke thought. You provide insight, and often times, you are a vehicle for hope. You shape perspective with your hands. What you do matters – and your work has the potential to be as powerful as you are willing to allow it.

‘Tis the season of new beginnings! What will you do with your opportunity? How will your work contribute to your vision of today? And of tomorrow? We are in need of your voice. We need challenge, and we need respite. We need inspiration! By renewing your own vision and spirit, you just might enlighten someone else’s.

Go forth and create, friends.

For more on the transformative effects of art: article: How+The+Political+Climate+Changed+My+Art