Plans to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago resulted in a motor trip to New York City in my new car to take in some Broadway shows. I remember that experience as a magical time, though the special shine on that memory may be coming from a comparison with the nearly two years that have followed it.
This time since, when Broadway has gone dark and all other local live artistic productions and performances have been shut down. All across the country, all across the world, we’ve been unable to attend musical concerts, dance and theater productions. Even films have been relegated to the small screen on our computers or in our living rooms, or on other hand-held devices. According to Oscar Wilde, “Life imitates Art as often as Art imitates life,” but during the pandemic, the two have come together in a unique way. In order to receive the inspiration that performance art provides we’ve streamed television series and documentaries and read novels we usually didn’t have time for pre-COVID. We’ve watched opera singers perform for their neighborhoods while standing on balconies, dancers like Twila Throup choreograph on zoom with dancers in four different cities.
We’ve viewed singers, musicians, and choir members, performing in their bedrooms, kitchens and back yards. They’ve appeared on our screens after being woven together coherently by what must surely be, some fancy post-production manipulations. “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions, so for some people, ordinary tasks have become art. Baking bread, gardening, flower arranging have filled the time once taken up by commuting to and from work.
Some have been able to fulfill a long held desire by using this time to take up a musical instrument or begin a memoir. Whether it is true or not that, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel has suggested that “The meaning of life is to live life as if it were a work of art,” it’s clear that art enriches our lives in ways that have been underappreciated in our western culture. Since the pandemic, many more people may realize their need to experience art, to view and witness it, even to become an artist–one who makes things.
Given the individual and collective losses we’ve been through these past two years we might even have to agree with Friedrich Nietzche, that “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” If you’re curious about how to make Grieving an Art join me and members of the InterPlay improv troupe, Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players Sunday June 6, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EDT as we perform The Art of Grieving: Emerging Towards a Life Well Lived on the Reimagine international on-line platform https://letsreimagine.org/76768/the-art-of-grieving-emerging-towards-a-life-well-lived