Art. Why? – Cherie Hanson

I have come to realize I have a relationship with art and with cultural events that is central to my sense of well being. As I do in all relationships, I step back and analyze the dynamic with a curious mind.
What I seek from art is a transformation of self. I stand before a painter that was looking at his concept reality in 1400 and I feel as if I have stepped into his very mind. This was the world he inhabited; these were the beauties of mundanity that surrounded him. What appears on the canvas are the objects limiting and expanding his very sense of his own humanity. And it deepens my understanding of what it means to be mortal beyond the boundaries of my own culture, current normative habits and constructs.

When I watch a choreography that is precise, unexpected and paced just beyond my ability to aperceive it, I feel more flexible. My understanding and ability to behold the eternity of the performance is being challenged. It wakes me up. I find myself holding my breath.
To hear poetry or a film script that is just beyond my capacity to follow the words, puts me in a state of alertness. I am panting after the patter, forced to keep up, to keep alert.
When I see a play and the acting, directing and intelligence of writing is so beautifully beyond that which I knew previously, it can shred my sense of confining comfort. The tightly locked up ideas of who I am are released. I am forced to the identity of the characters. I am that person. I inhabit that kind of grief. That particular rage is within me. I will have unanticipated tears flow. The sense of deep humanity and the fragility of living a life sweeps over me.
Perhaps, I am shocked or horrified or taken like a captive ripped out of my own repetitions of understanding. Good art over-takes who I am in normal life and drags me to a hilltop where I now have a greater purview of the entire landscape of being born into a body. This moment in front of a painting, or dissolving in music, or listening to an actor channel the narrative of slavery destroys me.
All that I have known is exploded and the intensity of something so much greater than myself floods through me.
I fall in love with the created piece of art. I fall in love with the artist who can hold and transform that electricity. It is such an act of bravery to grab the wire and allow the self to be used to transmit energy. I fall in love with the earth, my body, the shared humanity of all of us.
For me, great art is about connecting to passion. It is about allowing the small self to be reformulated through an experience. I am renewed. I understand now: To be human is an act of incalculable courage. An artist taught me that.

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