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At Odds With

September 27, 2018

Discord literally means "to be at odds with" or opposite of accord, a word not used in common speech much anymore. It can be something as active and obvious as violent opposition or as subtle as a passive aggressive approach to family dinners, but our leadership agreed that we all feel and since a discord, a disquieting air around social interactions. Cultural anthropology might say that our dependance on technology and phones has made out social skills dwindle, that we are actually rusty when it comes to face-to-face encounters. We aren't able to retreat from a conversation or aren't given time to think so we react and dig our heals in when challenged or confronted by a different or opposing worldview. We've lost our ability to converse and dialog without taking things personally.

 

Others suggest that the rise of instant answers and instant virtual communication and information overload leave everyone with frayed nerves and seeking to make people react. This would suggest that in some way we want people to react to what we say, so we work things strongly, leave no room for discussion, root out decisions in "experts" or historical or social reasons, and stand firm without wavering on them. 

 

While many other reasons could be made, we witness this happen daily, we feel or experience discord amongst ourselves, our families, our communities and within our nation on many levels. We don't claim to have the answers but as artists I think our job is to lean in, to engage with, to react in a way that draws out subtleties and nuance. If we've lost our ability, at least in part, to dialog well, art provides a wonderful way to communicate where words fail. Art in all its forms, is an expression that takes time to formulate, create, or bring forth, and as such is inherently more than just a "dig in your heals and defend your viewpoint" reaction. It may offer a defense of a worldview or a perspective on an event or events that I or you don't agree with, but the medium is such that we are given a better chance to process the artists work and perspective, and actually engage with it in a healthy way. 

 

In a culture that is frankly terrible at grieving or lamenting well, our response is either fight or escape, rarely to lean in and press into the discomfort, the discord. One art show isn't going to fix that, but my hope and our team's hope is that it provides a space where healthy, communal "leaning in" can happen. Where different viewpoints aren't lashed out at but held in a new light. Where we can, together, lament and mourn where there seem to be no good paths forward, where broken systems and pain and shame and indifference seem to rule the day. And where, through poetry, art, dance, music, other people, we can begin to dream of and work towards a way of living that embodies this "leaning in" over "digging in", and begins to change the immediate landscape of all our relationships.

 

We hope you contribute, your art and your hearts and your time, to this experiential event Nov 10th, and can't wait to see the works that begin to evolve and grow out of a desire to weave together the threads of this discord we all feel into something stronger. We can't always change the circumstances but we can always change how we react, process, and grow from them.

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