It is often said there is nothing new to create. I don’t believe that. Not for an instant. Beginning as young artists we are sent out with the missive, paint your world. But too often we become jaded or cynical of that world, or worse complacent. We paint, we sketch, we create, but something is missing. Perhaps there are times when we must use our art to make a point. Goya created his body of work, Los Desastres de la Guerra. Picasso was moved to paint his masterpiece, Guernica after the bombing of the village by Franco, aided by the German Luftwaffe in 1937.
Can books make a difference? The obvious answer is yes, of course, but it is more difficult than is seems. We already know it takes creativity to make a work of art. Add color, contrast, and composition to catch their eye. And above all courage. To an artist, their work is an extension of themselves. It takes a particular type of courage to put your work in a public forum. It takes an even greater amount of courage to expose yourself in public forum and take a stand at the same time regardless of whether that stand is controversial or not.
Just because our battles may seem smaller, they are no less important. Our world evolves with or without us, but perhaps the book as art can help accelerate those transitions for the better. After all, the purpose of art is not just to enjoy. It is also to make us think, to contemplate, and to understand. Add to that, the power of the book, and you have a powerful means to initiate change. We just need more courage.
To learn more on how books can be instruments of change, visit the Book Power Redux exhibition currently at Collins Memorial Library, The University of Puget Sound, through October 15th, 2014. To find out more about the exhibition, visit the University of Puget Sound website. The complete online catalog of the exhibition can also be viewed on the 23 Sandy Gallery website.