Collective Healing

lana yu

In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, I ask myself again a question that I ask myself frequently: “What is there about art that makes us turn to it in times of tragedy?” Governor Cuomo turned to the arts this week when he announced a million dollar art project to honor “all victims of hate, intolerance and violence.” It is perhaps, as the poet Hafiz wrote in the 14th century, because “art offers an opening for the heart…” as it helps us heal from the unfathomable and the incomprehensible. The acclaimed acting teacher Stella Adler once opined that “life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.” That is why we stand in awe at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and why we tremble when we see the AIDS Memorial Quilt (The Names Project). Remember also the power of Christo’s The Gates and DeNiro’s Tribecca Film Festival to quell the fear of New Yorkers and bring them back to their city in the wake of 9/11. These works are part of our collective healing process. They presented us with a path back to wholeness and love for each other and the world. In our work at ArtsWestchester, we strive daily to put into words the meaning and the power of the arts, its capacity to bring us together, to memorialize the things we care about, to express shared ideals and values, and yes, to be there when it is the only way to move beyond tragedy.

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