Art That Disturbs (Sometimes We Need It)

Art has the power to calm us, inspire us, and in some cases disturb us. After writing a more poignant post yesterday referring to God’s Creative Hand – among other things – today’s post is more upsetting.

Artist Manuel Oliver is the father of Joaquin Oliver who was murdered at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in 2008 along with 3 staff members and 13 other students. This week Oliver created the art installation above near the home of Senator Ted Cruz. You can read about it here. He calls it NRA Children’s Museum.

From the painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream to the photographer Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl (her name is Kim Phuc) to the Holocaust survivor Samuel Willenberg’s sculpture of 19 year old Rut Dorfman before she was murdered at Treblinka, art can be hard to look at. Some art is meant to be provocative.

What does it take to change a culture from being cruel to becoming less cruel? How many children and other innocent people will die before we shift from a gun culture that’s okay with civilians carrying automatic weapons to a gun culture that’s content with selling and buying only hunting and self-defense weaponry. (I’m not naive enough to believe the United States will ever be a culture that gets rid of The Second Amendment.)

I have questioned why we don’t allow images of shooting victims publically believing that – if people saw what an AK-15 did to a human body – we would surely ban them. The families of victims rightly remind me that sharing these images re-traumatizes them and infringes on their tender privacy. Please read this. And the truth is that legislators have already seen images and it hasn’t made a difference.

So maybe art will influence us. Consider the Creative Hand of God once again. If we take in the colors and textures and brilliance of God’s handiwork, it changes how we see the world.

The art of humans can anger us or make us turn our eyes away. But if we look closely and consider the details imagined by human beings, we might indeed be changed.

Again, please read about the NRA Children’s Museum here. The details are important.

Have a peaceful weekend, everybody.

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