Immeasurable Numbness

Day After Reflection: November 28, 2016

I sit here the day after my public demonstration in awe. In awe that I have been blessed with talents from the Lord that I do not deserve. In awe that I was able to finish my artwork in front of a group of people. In awe of the conversations I was able to have.

I was able to answer questions about the Black Lives Matter Movement, discuss feelings of being unrepresented, and listen to others tell me I made their day just by painting a picture and providing a space. I did not have hundreds of responses to my prompts, but the day was more than I could have hoped for. I focused. I painted. I discussed. I laughed. I sparked conversation.

There were a couple critical people. There were some hurting people. There were some confused people. There were some hopeful people. Today I was told that my project gave one of my friends hope. This is something I never expected. Something I cherish, because hope is something that can easily slip away in our world.

As a white woman, having this impact (even if it is small) encourages me. At the same time, I think there were some realistic shortcomings of my public demonstration. My goal for the artwork and prompts was to engage people that are not normally engaged in conversations about police brutality and other social issues. However, some people were drawn into the artwork, but were too uncomfortable to engage when I told them they could write on a sticky note. Undoubtedly, those most comfortable interacting with my artwork were those who supported the Black Lives Matter Movement.

A couple people asked questions about police brutality and social issues to try to gain understanding, and those people met my hopes for the project. Those few were worth it to me. However, I have come to the sinking realization that people can both appreciate my artwork/artistic ability and remain racist. This saddens me, because my artistic ability was not really the point. My project was never about the image, but what the image is saying. Hopefully, people who appreciate my painting accompanied by hateful views will be provoked to think about the artwork beyond their initial interaction with it.

Beyond those few conversations/responses that met my hopes, the project became more than worth it. I feel so honored to be apart of making somebody's day. I feel honored to give somebody hope. I feel honored that people were able to express themselves through my demonstration. I feel honored that somebody told me they could see themselves in my painting. Everyone's responses have become an inseparable part of my work. It is a project of interaction, vulnerability, and honesty. The art would never have the same meaning without its association of Wells Hall. It is an experience that resembles more than just the concepts that visually appear on the canvas. I experience joy because of that.