Editor’s note: The “View from the Center” column usually appears on the third Tuesday of each month. This month’s column appears today because a technical problem prevented it from being printed on its regular day.
The Durango Arts Center has been thick in art theory lately with Judith Reynold’s art history lecture series happening every Thursday.
We’re also preparing for a few upcoming ‘edgy’ art experiences: the interactive sculpture exhibit “Down the Rabbit Hole,” the play “Maple and Vine” and a visiting Creede Repertory Theatre performing arts workshop focused on 2008 Noble Peace Prize nominee Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, Exploration into Theatre for Social Change.
“Wow!” is what I hope you are thinking because these events provide us the needed experiences we’re about to discuss.
As a nonprofit and community hub for the arts, we at DAC continually reflect on our mission: to provide Durango and surrounding communities opportunities to create, to promote and to participate in diverse arts experiences. So we continue to serve our purpose and offer exhibits, classes and shows that we know people want, but also uphold the ideal of offering “diverse arts experiences.”
Propelled by our ongoing Art Revolution, we also continue to introduce different and edgy experiences to push boundaries and comfort zones.
Although we, as humans, don’t typically like feeling uncomfortable, weird or vulnerable and tend to opt for the safety of the familiar, we’ve all heard how stepping out of this zone and into unknown and somewhat strange situations helps us experience personal growth and transformation.
DAC Theatre Manager and Artistic Director Theresa Carson views the upcoming production of “Maple and Vine,” a collaboration with Merely Players, as an opportunity for the audience to experience and participate in the form of “living art,” where it’s not just a matter of people watching something happen, but being part of the unfolding, reflecting and interpreting.
Carson approaches each performance or production with the idea that if someone leaves feeling at all different – even slightly changed in some small way – she has done her job.
Art as a tool – whether a painting, poem, play, song or dance – provides us a medium to experience and explore life through reflection, introspection and synthesis. Since the beginning of time, art has propelled humanity’s search for purpose and meaning, serving as a way to sharpen thoughts, focus feelings and find resolution. After all, the act of “creation” is one of our nine universal human needs discussed by Chilean economist and sociologist Manfred Max Neef, providing us a way to explore our imagination, inventiveness, curiosity, individual expression and relation to ourselves and the world around us.
DAC Arts Education Coordinator Sandra Butler also is an artist showing in the upcoming “Down the Rabbit Hole” exhibit. She believes in the importance of making, providing and experiencing edgy art.
“Traditional art often helps us feel safe and comfortable with what we know,” Butler said. “Beauty in color and composition are comfortable, but it is with contemporary approaches to art and theater that do not primarily offer a way to find beauty and relating, but instead help us question our own beliefs and perceptions in the world to unravel meaning.”
Art that straddles an edge, a threshold or puts someone on the verge, provides that mirror, an opportunity for growth. And we all need it to find greater depth and expansion to who we are in our individual life experience.
As Butler said: “Sometimes contemporary art isn’t easy for a viewer because of the unknown or taboo territories it takes us to. It puts us in unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable situations. Like music, contemporary art can help us laugh or cry or think about the world in a different way.”
DAC invites you to push your boundaries these next couple months and step out of your comfort zone into the world of art history, into social issues of race, sexuality and other taboos, into exploring tools for social change and by going down your own rabbit hole.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Elsa Jagniecki is marketing coordinator for the Durango Arts Center.