Bridging the Divide
The headline says it all. I did not set out to discover this, but through twists of fate and directional choice I landed onto (I think) a simplistic way of understanding and of bridging divides.
Based on a love of archeology and history and delving into past cultures for artistic inspiration it became clear that disparities have existed since the beginning of time. Where once the earth had a matriarchal society, over time a transition occurred via discovery and new beliefs into a patriarchal dominated world. Fast forward — today very little has changed. Where there was/is persecution of certain faiths, there existed/exists enslavement of others. Where there exists/existed true beauty in the length of a neck or the voluptuousness of a figure in one culture, the starkness of a line is/was a revered trait in another. Differences have always and will continue to exist.
It was through this realization that “Why Can’t We be Friends,” made famous by the music group War in 1975 and well-known Beatle tune “Let’s Come Together” struck a chord and took root. At the time I was working on opposing artistic series: Fertility Goddess, based on iconic stone-age forms — she who gives life; and The Glorification of Warriors inspired by early warring cultures, those that take it (life) away.
So the birth of Let’s Come Together became a vision to artistically articulate a bridging of extremes regardless of social position, religion, ethnicity, views or values — a bringing together to erase the consequence of fear and hate to inspire equilibrium.
How does one strive to arrive at this space?
In the studio it was as if my hand was not my own, but guided to paint a series of flourishes on stark, black backgrounds, each of the five canvases are symbols or steps in obtaining my sought-after solution.
My point of departure is CHAOS. Depicting wild swirls of clashing, conflicting shapes the first canvas is — abundance of formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe. We can equate chaos in today’s inequities.
In DISCOVERY — the act of gaining insight or knowledge of something previously unseen or unknown becomes about expanding horizons where we can begin to understand beliefs, culture or ideas that may not mirror our own. This second canvas, with lessening movement is illustrative of an ease of conflict and discord.
CONSIDERATION — comes in to play as thoughtful or sympathetic regard or respect, a thoughtfulness of others. Upon further analysis a shift of understanding occurs, one of being compassionate to others and their differences, transitioning further away from a chaotic beginning.
To RESOLVE — leads us to an adjustment of our thinking so that we can come to a definite or earnest decision to be un-biased (or perhaps non-judgmental), a determined acceptance and tolerance of differences. Antagonism calms — on the verge of eradication by open minds.
The ultimate quest ENLIGHTENED — is factually well-informed, tolerant of opinions and guided by rational thought. The canvas is stark, bold, black and vacant! It signifies the absence of color, or of differences — a vision of equality. A clean slate!
Through a journey of these five simple steps it becomes quite easy to bridge the divide, but first you have to believe that chaos exists. It could be a person that calls you friend, while unbeknownst to you is undermining everything you do. They are creating chaos. It could be socially driven unrest that takes the focus off other issues pitting groups against each other. Whether they are differences in beliefs or of class distinctions that are made difficult to overcome, or the recently seen economic issues entwined with politics and racism to justify and fuel hatred and fear expanding divides.
Once you recognize chaos for what it is you can extricate yourself
Begin slowly. Place yourself in an unfamiliar environment, try new things, or keep an open mind and listen to new ideas. You’ve just taken that baby step of discovery. It could be exploration through new food, travel or reading an article or book from an author you don’t agree with. Slowly, newly discovered morsels are evaluated then processed as they settle into your conscience. You enter into the realm of consideration as you think about: do I like this taste, could I come to understand this other point of view, belief or cultural norm. And the more you engage the more you become comfortable and begin to adjust your thinking, arriving at a definite or earnest decision to be un-biased and respect these new revelations — even if they are not your cup of tea.
For example, I recall an incident years ago cooking with my grandmother in Kansas one winter and finding an interesting bottle in the pantry. Written in Asian characters I opened the top to sharp, pungent, fishy. When asked, my uncle Bruce who spent years in the Philippines replied, “it’s fish sauce, you should try it.” Turning up my nose I remember telling him, “never could I like this stuff!” He gifted me the bottle saying, “in time you will come to enjoy it.” And you know what? Today I can’t image eating my beloved Thai, Korean or Vietnamese dishes without a splash of fish sauce and plenty of hot chili.”
Once you have achieved that resolve it’s a simple slide into enlightenment, as now, guided by rational thought you can be tolerant of opinions and differences and absent yourself of the fear and hate driven by misunderstanding or ignorance.
Try it out. The world could use less chaos and more enlightened individuals
Artists continue to be instruments of social change, utilising creativity to educate and motivate, as a means to open hearts and minds and inspire change — ultimately transforming lives.
Patrizia Salles grew up in North Africa and Europe with early glances into various societies, foods, ethnicities and religions. Based on past cultures, her art aims to share insight into that which has come before, in all its glory and faults by establishing a reference point or foundation, if you will for a better future. For humanity, our planet and ultimately our children.