How could I possibly say I am not “political” when I advocate for healthcare reform and support the Affordable Care Act? Is it a political act to spend 55 hours/month standing with a portrait and sign in front of the US Supreme Court and Capitol? I am, after all, there to influence the political process.
Where I live in Pennsylvania two major roads converge, Routes 202 & 263. These two routes actually share one road for a few miles then split and go their separate ways. And so it is with art and politics for me.
I did not create Art As Social Inquiry to bolster a political ideology. I did not say, “I believe XYZ, and I will devise a way to express my political beliefs.
I saw people suffering and wanted to know why. I paint portraits of people in order to examine the human condition. I allow myself to be led wherever and however that inquiry takes me. And this artistic inquiry into healthcare has landed me smack on a political highway.
Traveling in these political fast lanes has taught me a few things.
Firstly, I owe a huge THANK YOU to all the activists I met who have taught me what a life dedicated to advocacy really means.
I’ve witnessed these good people work like barge-pulling mules. They never miss an opportunity to elevate the discussion to address REAL concerns for the middle class.
I suppose we could say that ALL politics is about people. Yes, the best kind of politics is about PEOPLE. And the health and welfare of a nation are a good politician’s business. True activists make it their life’s work to fulfill that political mission.
Just as I wish to understand and alleviate human suffering through art, I have met many good and very hard-working people who use politics toward the same end. And to those people I say, “God bless.” I have neither the skill, patience nor appetite for the political stew. And to those who do, THANK YOU. My job is easier than yours.
The difference between me and a political activist is that I will go where my questions and art lead me. Some of those questions will overlap politics if the questions happen to be on the political agenda. Other inquiries will take me deep into the human psyche and diverse cultural landscapes like my next art project where I will be looking at “How We Die.”
I, on my artistic path, and those on a political course are sharing the same road for now. One day I will move on and make art that addresses other topics but I will NEVER stop painting healthcare until we create a system where ALL can access medical care. And so the road I now share with my political activist friends (and you know who you are!) will eventually split And we will go our separate ways. And I will have been made a better person for the sharing.
THANK YOU for all you have taught me. I love you.
I will talk more about my form of art activism at the PA Progressive Summit on Saturday, Feb.11. Hope you can make it.