Uncertain | Why

I have been thinking a lot lately about the question of why I paint. I’ll continue to blog more about that as my thoughts continue to develop, but I wanted to note down a thought I had today.

The heart of my work is to create more Joy in the world. I see Joy, and its creation, as a radical act in dark times. Forces of chaos do not want us feeling happy, feeling connected, feeling purposeful. Those forces want us feeling desperate, miserly, and despairing. We can be manipulated more readily when we give into that chaos.

The only armor against it is joy, kindness, and love. I know that to be true.

So I am coming to see my work, this series—What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?—is a kind of atonement and an emotional labor. I have been extremely fortunate in so many ways in my life—born to a middle class, English family that emigrated to the U.S. I went to high school at a top public high school, went to a top private college, continued to graduate school, owned property, had the legal right to get divorced and remarried, had the right to choose when to try to have children, although that did not turn out as we’d hoped.

Any why? Why do I get all those benefits? What do I do with them? That’s where my sense of duty—to share with others, to do work that lifts people up, that atones for my privilege, that bears into being a better world through my emotional labor. The way I know best to do that is through my art—particularly my painting, through which I can bring together colors and textures and shapes and references that lift the viewer, that connect, that communicate love, joy, and kindness for whomever sees the work.

This world is so uncertain. Joy is the way.

 “Here Lies Love” says my T-shirt—the title of a brilliant and hopeful musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.   

“Here Lies Love” says my T-shirt—the title of a brilliant and hopeful musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.