Art Helps Us Deal with SufferingPosted: February 25, 2010
I was having coffee with a friend the other day, and the topic of art and suffering came up. He’s a photographer, struggling with his own need to make a living, while still being true to his calling.
Through the conversation, we both learned that it’s tough to be an artist.
But being an artist, at its core, means to be generous. It means that God has given you a gift that you need to share with the world.
And the world is messed up. It’s hurting and confused. The world is suffering.
Art helps us make sense of suffering — not by spouting off cliches or offering trite platitudes, but by speaking to that inner voice inside each of us that says, “Yes, this sucks, but there is still beauty.”
Sometimes, life doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, there is just pain.
And that is when art serves us best.
The curse of the artist, of course, is that she is the one plagued with bearing the majority of the burden. To paint a picture or write a poem that helps soothes someone’s suffering means that you need to bear another’s burden, to have compassion, to suffer with.
To be an artist (a writer, photographer, painter, musician, etc.) is to suffer, but not without meaning. Not without purpose. To be an artist is also to create something beautiful that can alleviate pain. This is what great art can do. It can sit silently with a friend who is mourning, without saying a word, and yet somehow comforting and consoling.
Art is transcendent like that. It acknowledges the night, while reminding us that joy comes in the morning.