Sunday, July 4, 2010

Supporting Artistic Freedom

Countries which encourage and support artistic expression have my great appreciation, as it is my belief that humans best thrive in environments in which the arts are allowed to flourish. The arts are the universal language which communicates to every human heart, inspires individual creativity and breathes life into healthy communities. How a group of people relates to the arts reflects a lot about the collected consciousness of that group: their values, their sensitivity, their courage to relate to one another on deep levels.

The largest art festival in the world is held every summer in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Established in 1947, this festival aims at creating a nurturing a supportive environment in which artists can express themselves, and have the opportunity to share their visions with large audiences. The Fringe, as it is called, has been reproduced in other countries around the world, including the United States of America.

Today, Americans celebrate their independence and freedom. These are values upon which all artists rely: the independence and freedom to express ourselves creatively, wherever we live on the planet. As former American President John F. Kennedy stated, "I see little of more importance to the future of our country and of civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his/her vision wherever it takes him/her."

On this day in which freedom is celebrated, I feel honored to have been invited by American director John C. Bailey, to contribute several of my artistic photographs to the Capital Fringe Festival (an offshoot of the Edinburg festival), held annually in Washington DC. I am especially thrilled to participate, as the images I’ve created will be engaged in illustrating a controversial theme which has occupied artists throughout the ages: that of suicide. It is a timeless tragedy that many avoid addressing, and that gets beautifully and compassionately presented in Evan Crump's creative play, Genesis as directed by John C. Bailey.

The role of the artist then, often becomes that of the communicator of uncomfortable, taboo subjects. The artist creates an acceptable, approachable setting in which the audience can safely examine these subjects, and experience their own hearts entering into valuable dialogue with them. As the famous classical composer Robert Schumann so aptly put it, "The artist's vocation is to send light into the human heart."

Effective art touches our heart then, and familiarizes us with its contents. Groups of people who thus support artists are inadvertently giving to their own hearts. This is, in essence what John C. Baileys’ play is designed to do, and I feel privileged that he chose my art to illustrate it, for "Every great work of art has two faces, one toward his/her own time, and one toward eternity." --Daniel Barenboim

For more information on the Capital Fringe Festival please click here