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The Lost Art of Conversation

March 24, 2010

Conversation used to be a two-sided affair.

One person would talk, the other would listen, and vice-versa.

Now, it seems that this common courtesy has been all but lost among people who hold differing beliefs. Whether one is on the left or the right of the political spectrum, whether one believes in Jesus, Muhammad, Santa Claus, or nothing at all, very few people seem willing to actually listen to someone whose beliefs oppose their own.

This is bad. As human beings who want to understand the world we live in, it would make sense that we should want to hear all sides. That we should want to see from as many different perspectives as possible, and that we should want to question what we’ve been told, by getting someone else’s opinion (which we may or may not agree with from the get-go).

This is merely one reason that art is so important today*: it can (and often does) provoke conversation. It stirs controversy, and it has the power to bring to light the things that are in the dark. It can be done commercially, or it can be done at a grassroots level. It can be immensely popular, or it can be something that only holds value for a close group of people. Whatever the scale of the project, art will always be common ground for dialogue.

So what does this mean? This means that, as artists, we have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to be more transparent. More honest. We have a responsibility to put people in someone else’s shoes through the art that we produce; to publicly vocalize our beliefs through our art. And not just for the sake of making “a statement,” but for the purpose of starting some real, sustainable conversation.

* And this is, presumably, one of the reasons that art has been so important for… well, ever. 

This post was a featured article inside Proxart Magazine Issue 1. Click the link to download the whole issue in PDF format – for free!
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