A Break in the Walls of Society

In 1992 Leonard Cohen wrote a song titled Anthem. In his chorus he stated, "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." This statement is a very good description of the relationship of society and the impact that an artist causes on society.

As artist we have an insight into the degradation of our society that some people might not realize. We see the morale fabric of our time, as others might not. We see the darkness that covers society and that something needs to be done to enlighten our culture and bring the light into it. Many artists use various mediums and method to bring this light forward.


In 1997 artist Spencer Tunick spent five months traveling 48 contiguous states and photographing people nude in every state including Maine. His last stop of his 48-state tour was the former Loring Air Force Base for the Phish concert. He was combining the urban (city) with the natural (the human form). Spencer worked with male and female models of all ages, sizes and shapes. He began to break down the barrier of what we called the "IDEAL" of the beautiful form and showed how important everyone is in our society. He showed that people have a right to be who they are and that we are only different because of the clothes that we wear. Spencer caused a few cracks in reality and showed a new light. Spencer was not the first artist to make such a bold stand nor will he be the last.

I have on several occasions made bold statements in my work and suffered the criticism that followed. In August 2004 at The Space Between here in Presque Isle I hang my first piece of art ever. It was titled "To Be Free". The piece was a photograph that made a stand against domestic violence and the problems of a woman to leave her abuser. The community for making such a bold statement against the violence called me many names. Even though there were people that did not like nor understand my statement, the message was received by one woman who no longer is a slave to the violence but free and getting her life back. Helping just one person made all of my efforts worth it.

In December 2004 I was part of a group show at the Mark and Emily Turner Library in Presque Isle. At the show I premiered five pieces on censorship and art titled "Throwing Caution to the Wind." In my work I depicted people wrapped in "CAUTION" barrier tape. The photos made a statement about the inability for us to talk about subjects or look at certain book due to their controversial nature. That by acting in such a way has made us de-evolve over the past 6 centuries. Making such a statement is not always in the artist best interest for his career but was one that they may of felt compelled to say.

Some artists make cracks in society by their style and not their message. In the early 1900's artist such as Wassily Kandinsky and James McNeil Whistler were making strides into abstract art. Whistler had argued that art should concern itself with the harmony of colors, just as music deals with the harmony in sounds. Kandinsky argued that art should display the spiritual forces behind the visual world. These were unorthodox theories in art for their time but the cracks in art paved the way for cubist and futurist art.

Impressionist had the same affect on out society. Impressionist painters like Monet who began by painting driven by colors, rather than by line. They began painting outside of their studios where life was happening and where their work was more influenced by their environment. Impressionist used short and broken brush strokes of untinted and untamed color. Brush lines became bolder and visible. Impressionism began to make cracks in reality and paved the way for more informal music.

Even though some of these artist we not out to change the world they made a very large impact on society along with art, music and even some on philosophy. We all have an impact on our surroundings everyday. Whether that impact is for the betterment of our surrounding is up to us. I know what side I want to be on. I hope you do too.