As the AGW surpasses one month of being open to the public, we are taking some time to reflect on how powerful a role the arts have played in bringing people together while so much was keeping us apart.
Throughout the pandemic, the AGW offered virtual programming to foster an appreciation for the arts and to encourage members of the community to create their own artworks while at home. Participants were welcome to use whatever materials they had available, and facilitators were present to provide provocations and support the creative process. Participants were also given the opportunity to share what they had made and spoke to their artistic decisions and the experience they had creating them. Through this process, we, as staff, witnessed time and time again the power of the arts to connect us, and to help each of us express ourselves, process experiences, and better understand ourselves and each other.
Although connection can happen at any time during an experience of the arts or making artworks, it is often during the sharing of what we have made that we see meaningful and transformative connections happen. Part of this power is in how we moderate and conduct ourselves when discussing artworks and engaging in critique. If we engage with viewing each other’s works generously, noticing elements we enjoy and are delighted by, as well as those that make us wonder and feel unsure, we help generate a conversation that can develop understanding. It is often through conversation that we come to better understand ourselves, each other, and the world we share.
As we continue to welcome the public at the AGW, we will need to have many conversations with each other about how we will live, interact with each other, and share the resources we have, knowing everything that we know now. We hope, and firmly believe, that the arts have the power to continue generating these important conversations.
Written by Derrick Carl Biso (they/them/theirs), Special Initiatives Coordinator at the Art Gallery of Windsor