Sunday, September 7, 2014

189: The power of dreams

One night I had a dream. And the dream changed me.

Like most artists I have drawn since I was young. My earliest dream was to be an artist although I had no idea what being an artist entailed. One of my earliest memories is helping my dad make a fence. For some reason I asked him what prejudice meant. He explained the word in the context of civil rights. While hammering nails my father told me of defying Jim Crow laws while he was a soldier stationed in the South after World War ll. Like many Americans I was raised to respect all people regardless of race or creed.

Despite my upbringing I never identified with the civil rights movement. I thought it was an issue for States to work out on an individual basis. I could envision no role for me to play. One night several decades ago I dreamed I was an African American. In the dream no one would listen to me. I went from place to place trying to express myself in complete futility. The reason people ignored me was the color of my skin.

Previous to this dream I made no effort as an illustrator to include other races in my illustrations. This was not overt racism on my part but rather a lack of empathy caused by profound cluelessness. After the dream I felt a focused obligation to include other races in my illustrations. I didn't become a political activist–that's not my nature. But after the dream I never allowed any racist comment or insinuation to go unchallenged in my presence.

Art is imagination made tangible. Art is a compelling force if imagined with enough vitality and clarity. In the communication revolution those who communicate best prevail.

Artists live in the world of dreams. That is not a position of weakness. It is not a position of powerlessness. Our job as artists is to imagine a more beautiful, more interesting, and better world. That dream has the power to change us–and to change the world.

Brad Teare–September 2014



   

8 comments:

  1. That's an interesting thought. I find dreams very intriguing.

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    1. Thanks Felicity. I agree. Dreams can be an invaluable source of creativity, partly because they seem to have more visual and emotional potency than simple imagination.

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  2. Great food for my thoughts Brad, a wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Padmaja, and as always, thanks for dropping by.

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  3. Thank you! I overheard some very racist comments by a patron at a restaurant, today, and thought about saying something to him, but didn't. I've been thinking about it all day...

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    1. I've been there Ellen. I know how it feels. Usually something like "that's not kind" or "that doesn't represent the people I know" will work. Sometimes something like "my father taught me to respect all people equally" works, too (or whatever reflects your experience of how you came to truly empathize). It's best to avoid using a "zinger". That tends to shame people and makes them more intractably racist. It's hard to resist sometimes though!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate the feedback!

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Thanks for your comments!

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