The Artist’s Role In a Time of Crisis

Arnold Böcklin, The Plague, 1898

This past month the world has changed and a new chapter has started for all of us. Shock, fear, worry of fulfilling basic needs, wonder of what is coming next—it’s all on the table.

For all of human history artists have been appreciated for their unique ability to reflect back what they see through the works they create. Some great historical examples are featured in Daily Art Magazine, “Plague in Art: 10 Paintings You Should Know in the Times of Coronavirus,” from Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Triumph of Death, c. 1562, Arnold Böcklin, Plague, c. 1898, to Keith Haring, Ignorance = Fear, 1989. The observing public may comment, rage, heal, be happy—all the forms of human emotion. We are trying to understand each artist’s perspective on their chosen subject.

This world epidemic is a unique situation for all of us. We are trying to really understand what is happening to us at this moment in time. This is not the world’s first epidemic nor its last. Artists have always told the story of what happened throughout history. Northeast artists’ time has come to see how we can rise to the challenge. It won’t be easy, and we aren’t guaranteed full recognition and resources, but we will do it because we are compelled to. We don’t know anything else, this is what we do.

And our greater community needs us. The Northeast Minneapolis Arts community’s greatest strength has always been our willingness to share and be there for each other. The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District’s board of directors is going to try our best to amplify your voice, your work, and your ideas, and research resources for the survival of this amazing art community—you amazing artists. Please be as safe as you can in these surreal times. Create and share so we can raise up our common energy—our life force. Hopefully we will all get back to a healthier world as soon as possible.