From Us and Them to We
July 9th Book Signing
On July 9th, Art Space Vincennes LLC hosted a book-signing event that was unexpectedly packed with between 100 and 110 people, so many that others were turned away. This event was historic for the Knox County area because of the response indicating strong interest in social issues that were swept under the carpet in Knox County for decades. The event on July 9th became an opportunity to openly discuss some of these issues, to seek and achieve understanding, resolution and healing.
The event featured three authors and their books: Kaylie Jones, daughter of the famous author James Jones who wrote From Here to Eternity, with her book The Anger Meridian; Barbara Taylor with All Waiting is Long; and former Knox County resident J. Patrick Redmond with his first novel Some Go Hungry, a fictional account based on actual events, that focused on sexual identity and consequences of society’s difficulty in coping with this issue.
When we started our gallery three years ago, we expressed an underlying purpose for Art Space Vincennes, that of exploring various forms of spiritual journey that can be found in an artist’s overall body of work. If you take a look at our history, this thread becomes evident in the shows that we have sponsored. For many artists the notion of spiritual journey is present but lies far below the surface. It can exist in many forms from the outright religious to the exceptionally personal. Whatever the manifestation, it is abundantly clear that artists address the fact that we all have our struggles through life. Our perceptions change, sometimes opening up to broader points of view, sometimes closing to very narrow points of view. We also compartmentalize perceptions, seeing or hearing this, but blind and deaf to that.
Memory and perception can never be whole and complete. They are different for each of us. Any one event is different in each participant’s mind. A painting or sculpture is different for each viewer. A book means different things to different readers. Yet, there is this notion of one shared reality, though no one can define exactly what that reality is.
If we think of ourselves as part of a human family, love, empathy, compassion and tolerance can be the basis of our thoughts and actions. On the other hand fear of the other can cause us to be protective, political, and aggressive. The art that we have brought to Art Space Vincennes is chosen for the life-affirming qualities that support the idea of shared reality. This can be seen clearly, if the viewer allows him- or her-self to open up to the work deeply. It is about perception.
Belief is based on perception, which accounts for differences in beliefs. Our national campaign for the presidency has dangerously developed into a fear-based us-versus-them fight, in which both sides are attempting to make the opponent an undesirable “other”, protecting “ourselves”. Emotion, bigotry, and fear tend to shape our judgments more than policy does. We have seen this divisiveness many times in the history of the world and it has resulted in pain, war, oppression, police states and disenfranchisement on both a macrocosmic and microcosmic scale.
Our world, our country, our Knox County, our schools, our junior high classes, our three playmates, our brothers and sisters cannot escape this human condition without putting love before fear, before difference, and before greed. We are not God. We all are trying to find our way through this life. Love and tolerance are sometimes very difficult to practice, because our perceptions and our beliefs that arise from them are different.
Patrick Redmond’s book about sexual identity is about not only J. Patrick; it is about all of us, the ugly picture we sometimes paint as we struggle with our perceptions and beliefs, our indiscretions, our lack of empathy, our selfish and cruel satisfaction in causing pain to others. However, Redmond’s novel has already opened up discussion through the hope that it has offered. Gratitude and apologies have already reached Redmond; we find a new awareness in many now, who have discarded their bias and fears in favor of love and tolerance.