I recently saw a video, a music video actually, by the artist Lucy Dacus for her song “Addictions.”
The young woman in the story finds a picture frame that renders the world around her into black and white: as she moves the frame through and over her world, the color for that instant disappears, until she steps through the frame into a black and white world: colorless, but with connection. It’s an impressive piece of film and technology, certainly with layer and layers of meaning and interpretation accompanying her lyrics.
Add to that the knowing and inquisitive commentary of the wonderful symposium “Bringing Forward the Past: Art, Identity and the American South” presented by the Mississippi Museum of Art and their Center for Art and Public Exchange…and of course it got me thinking about our world and expression and understanding, beyond shape and color and shades of gray.
The range of topic and opinion about art and place during the symposium was across the spectrum, leading one speaker to comment, that in our approach to art in all its forms perhaps we need to learn to look better. Actually, considering the multiple reasoned and contemplative conversations leads one to feel that we need to learn to look differently, and constantly, at both art and the world around us, especially as they are in an uninterrupted courtship, always reflecting each upon the other.
The nature of our worlds, and the world of us all, is change. Nothing remains as it was; at least, I cannot image a civilization, society or community that would want to remain static or not cognizant. We have seen such worlds, intractable and stubborn, ultimately yield in sudden violence or lingering defiance against the ceaseless current of change and perception, and not one of us should find any comfort there. The need for constant examination, for seeing differently, an initial challenge no doubt, is clear; and it becomes more effortless when practiced, even though the dance evolves, through gradations and murmurs both subtle and loud.
In a world more shaded and defined by color every day, is it ironic that we seek definitions in black and white and hide within the gray areas of explanation? Our stories are vibrant with changes sometimes defined by the slightest of hues, and sometimes by the introduction of a completely new palate. Our methods can be by a single fiber of brushstroke, or by a rough assault of splash. Our sight molded by a subtle tone of understanding or a discordant slap of recognition. But it is always technicolor: rich and glorious and overwhelming.
Today, shades of gray are shadows, hiding places, while walls devoid of the spectrum and tints of a changing world oppose discourse and obstruct. In order to realize the whole story, to get forward, and to embrace the change inevitable and undeniable, we must seek to see differently, to nurture ourselves through that awareness. And as we reach out one to another and embrace in individual moments, let us always, also, find a way to rise up to a higher place, a view from somewhere above that captures each moment, and endeavor to understand more.