An Easter message for artists
TODAY, Easter Sunday, let's not rehash in detail the difficulties of the past week: the revelation that teachers — and the $410-million they owe the Government — are perhaps their own worst enemy when it comes to getting the pay increase they so badly need; the discovery of a $10-billion Government accounting error requiring a third debt exchange; the whopping 150 per cent property tax increase which we have agreed to without objection; and the feeling that Bruce Golding is clearly being wooed back to the helm of the Jamaica Labour Party.
Oh, it's been a terrible week.
Let us instead, use today to celebrate artists, those men and women who are taken up with beauty: poets and literary men, painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, men and women devoted to the theatre and the cinema. And as the great Jamaican painter Karl Parboosingh described them in 1975, "a small group of people, discontented and unattended, (who) are working day and night to produce works of beauty that can only enhance our lives".
And because it is the end of Holy Week, let us inject a little faith into this column.
Pope Paul VI's message to artists in 1965 said: "This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. It is beauty, like truth, which brings joy to the heart of man and is that precious fruit which resists the year and wear of time, which unites generations and makes them share things in admiration. And all of this is through your hands. May these hands be pure and disinterested. Remember that you are the guardians of beauty in the world. May that suffice to free you from tastes which are passing and have no genuine value, to free you from the search after strange or unbecoming expressions. Be always and everywhere worthy of your ideals..."
And on this very holy day, let us remember Pope Benedict XVI's thoughts on art in 2011: "It may have happened on some occasion that you paused before a sculpture, a picture, a few verses of a poem or a piece of music that you found deeply moving, that gave you a sense of joy, a clear perception, that is, that what you beheld was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a collection of letters or an accumulation of sounds, but something greater, something that 'speaks', that can touch the heart, communicate a message, uplift the mind.
"A work of art is a product of the creative capacity of the human being who, in questioning visible reality, seeks to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colour and sound. Art is able to manifest and make visible the human need to surpass the visible, it expresses the thirst and the quest for the infinite."
And on this Easter Sunday in 1999, Pope John Paul II read a letter to artists on the place and significance of art, saying:
"On the threshold of the Third Millennium, my hope for all of you who are artists is that you will have an especially intense experience of creative inspiration. May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude...
"Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that 'beauty will save the world'.
"Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy."
Happy Easter everyone, but especially to our artists, those men and women who, discontented and unattended, are working day and night to produce works of beauty that can only enhance our lives.