By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota
Many of us feel that there has never been such political strife or widespread social unrest in our lifetimes. We have all been living through a very stressful time. It’s easy to wonder if our torn social fabric is beyond repair. When the National Guard is called to stand by because of riots in Sioux Falls or when different political flags—instead of the American flag—fly on neighboring flag poles, it makes us ask if we can ever come together again.
We can and we must! I think the arts can help us find the path to unity. We start life as blank canvases, ready for whatever life paints upon us. In a tune by Gregory Porter he sings it this way: “We’re all like children, painted on canvas, picking up our shades as we go—made by the pigment of the paint that is put upon us.”
Consider the colors painted on your canvas. How do those colors, acquired over a lifetime, influence the way you see yourself and others?
In a recent talk at the State Arts Conference, Arts Midwest CEO Torrie Allen shared his hope that by looking inward and seeking to understand the context of our personal views and biases—those pigments painted by others on us over a lifetime—we can take action to create a nation that is “out of many, one.” We can stitch together the torn fabric of a country divided. As Torrie says, through “deeper awareness and awakening of our powerful inner spirits such as oneness, creativity, gratitude and love,” we will find the best in ourselves.
What is painted on your canvas? Do you experience the shades of gratitude and love? Do you sense brush strokes connecting you with your neighbor and others across the world? During this holiday season, as we turn to the hope and promise of a new year, I believe we can look to the arts for inspiration and togetherness. I encourage you to listen to Torrie Allen’s full presentation. I’ve posted the video below. You can learn more about the arts in South Dakota at www.artssouthdakota.org.