So often, artists find themselves in the cross-fire between competing armed groups.This seems to happen throughout the Third World. many artists demonstrate great courage as they share their visions of healing, even as they face great violence.
Recently, Keri Douglas wrote about one such artist:
Blanca Santander: Artist Triumphs Over Shining Path
A gentle spirit triumphs over an act of terror. Blanca Santander, a Peruvian children’s book author and illustrator, paints magical scenes from her dreams, her visions sharing a message of “hope, peace and happiness”…..
Santander reflects and says, “For me, my art is from my soul, my heart, my feelings, my dreams and my meditations.” Nothing makes her happier than seeing a child looking at one of her paintings with a smile.
Knowing the amount of human suffering around the world, Santander says her message through her art is for all people to have “hope and happiness”.
In Palestine, Juliano Mer Khamis, the founder of the Freedom Theatre, was recently assassinated by Palestinian gunmen, perhaps opposed to his support for women’s rights. The Freedom Theatre continues to provide thoughtful theatre in the midst of conflict.They write:
The Freedom Theatre – a theatre and cultural centre in Jenin Refugee Camp – is developing the only professional venue for theatre and multimedia in the north of the West Bank in Occupied Palestine. Since it opened its doors in 2006, the organisation continues to grow, develop and expand, enabling the young generation in the area to develop new and important skills which will allow them to build a better future for themselves and for their society.
Other artists, like South African artist, Gabisile Nkosi, risk much, only to be killed by the residual violence lodged deep within their cultures. The Witness spoke fondly of Gabi soon after her murder in 2008:
FOLLOWING the tragic and brutal murder last week of Gabisile Nkosi, many tributes have been paid to the 34-year-old artist and printmaker who was also the programme manager and community co-ordinator at the Caversham Centre. Nkosi was shot in the head by a former boyfriend who broke into her Lidgetton home. After killing her, he shot himself. Nkosi leaves her 13-year-old son, Sandile.
Perhaps the disdain shown by many politicians for funding the arts is just another, less obvious, attempt to silence the voices of the artists who so often are the conscious of our times. If so, then removing the arts from our schools and communities is a deeply political and immoral act.