An Artist’s Responsibility

Text by Annie Evans, Ball State University ‘16

As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed filled with puppies and yoga articles, I stumble upon a video of the famed actress Kerry Washington winning an award at the GLAAD Media Awards.

 

This award was not for her performances, which are stellar, but for her work as an ally.


 

In her speech, she speaks of our responsibility as storytellers:

“Having your story told, as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian or as a trans person, or as any member of any disenfranchised community, is sadly often still a radical idea.

There is so much power in storytelling. And there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations.” (Kerry Washington)

 

With our painting, photography, music, acting, etc — whichever medium we choose — what story are we telling? Is it inclusive? Are we accepting and claiming our power as artists?

 

In Indiana, the home of my university, a bill was just passed that will give business owners the ability to discriminate against same-sex couples by denying them services on religious grounds.

 

They did it while nobody was looking. How do we get people to look? We use our ninja powers of storytelling.

 

“We must see each other. All of us. And we must see ourselves. All of us.” (Kerry Washington)


As informed and powerful artists, we must help humans see themselves and each other, to clear the fog of daily life and fear by lighting the path to understanding, empathy and compassion.

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