The pandemic we face is bringing catastrophic pain to millions of people in our nation and around the world. America has lost more lives than we lost in the Vietnam War. We face profound economic consequences. Thinking of creativity in this context may seem counterintuitive, but painters and poets and philosophers and writers and film makers and entrepreneurs have always been one of our front lines in interpreting and transmuting painful times into powerful ones. And this period of time, despite the grave difficulties we face, is no different. In fact, we will sorely need artists of every kind to help us think through our challenges and access feelings about them.
Consider just one facet of the pandemic: Sheltering at home. This brings individuals and couples and families into closer contact with their own thoughts and those of others than they may have ever been. And the conflict, loneliness, compassion, concern, angst, passion, anger and everything else that results can provide not only the raw material for plays, movies and many other forms of creative expression (which then help people make sense of those emotions).
Consider the pathos of people needing to say goodbye to loved ones who they cannot visit in the hospital. Or consider the psychological impact of being infected with the virus and facing isolation and stigma. These sort of gut-wrenching realities calls for artists to help us contend with them. We really need an army of such artists.
There is already a call for people to record Haiku about Coronavirus.
There are many calls for people to document their thoughts and feelings and experiences confronting Coronavirus.
Street art is appearing.
Artists of every kind will be needed. And they will answer the call because they have always done so when most needed. May they be the artists Wassily Kandinsky envisioned when he wrote:
The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.
Dr. Keith Ablow