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Can Politics Affect Creativity?

I woke up this morning thinking about starting my paintings, still stuck in my head and ready for moisture and brushing.

Then I turned on the news and heard all the same crap about the presidential and other upcoming elections. “The Final Fight” “Very Close National Polls” “Candidates Skirt Talks About …” Zap! went my enthusiasm. This wasn’t about believing the right people in office will truly fix all the broken things, because I know better. I know that it will take the whole of every citizen to do that. Rather, I felt a bit hapless about the reasons for creating my masterpiece in such an emotional climate.

What does the political state have to do with this? Lots. When the current vote is sharply divided it’s hard to create a non static vision, because public opinion is so stilted in one way or its opposite. Politics is a reflection of this mode. No matter who wins this dead heat election there will be no majority. Likewise, whatever I say with my brush will gather support from half of my viewers and contrary opinion from the other. There is no mid ground, no gray area to foster new shadowy ideas. No fertile ground to seed the next outgrowth painting. And this malaise is just too easy to adopt:

“Why bother creating anything in this stagnation?”

I think our politics mirror the prevalent attitude of, “it only needs to make me feel good and the heck with everyone else.” And like our narrowly led election that makes for a double edged sword. As an artist, in part, I feed on the flow of the masses. And when they only self-serve it’s hard to find meaning that fits a productive and purposeful image, because there are too many, and each only serves a small piece of the whole.

However, the other parts of my artist being can see all these small bits coming into a future wholeness that creates something wonderful for all. A bit utopian, perhaps, but none the less it’s palpably real to me. I can feel it coming to light someday, but right now, just like our political future, it’s fragile. It sits precariously on the edge between two models of living. It’s like two colors that are not harmonious to one another. Blue and red don’t necessarily praise one another, and mixed together plain purple just isn’t a favorite of the masses. Not yet anyway.

Purple is what I see, and I use it in almost every painting I make.

I sense it emerging more and used in new ways everywhere from nature, fashions, home décor and even in food. I can feel the masses moving slowly in that amethyst hued direction. But beware! Mixed purples are rarely equal parts of red and blue because they lack intensity, interest, sagacity and illusion. A plain mix of opposites won’t tell you anything from the canvas. It’s just a mediocre blend of the same elements you started with. There is no challenge to the viewer and the outcome shows no growth. Grey matter can’t exist in this stagnation.

Sometimes if not used directly, I paint purple in its harmonious opposite so the eye will translate into it. However, lots of people don’t like yellow either. To create art with purpose and meaning it helps to understand politics, at least enough to feel what the mass populace is seeking now. Where this pulse is taken also matters, because it lets me know the state of wholeness. Right now I fear we are in an emergent situation. We have a 50 percent chance of survival and it won’t matter who wins our elections. We’ll be falling backwards or crawling forwards. There will be no immediate wondrous systematic shock bringing life to its feet.

Oh, and what about that creative malaise “Why bother?” because an artist never quits. We can’t it is our nature to keep challenging the universe for another way. Politics can affect creativity if an artist lets it. As for my creativity, politics be damned. Saturated purple will reign! Imagine the song from a huge stroke of blue violet splattered across a golden canvas …

I’ll be imagining the future in purple where no ad attacks will create opposite polarities or policy debates will be lost in gridlock. Is your future purple?


Sandy Nelson is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.