“May you live in interesting times…”
I’ve always found that saying to be strangely provocative –purportedly a curse, it has always seemed to me to be a challenge to engage with rather than a curse under which to cower.
We are certainly living in interesting times! W.H. Auden said that “Poetry (and by extension, Art) is not concerned with telling people what to do, but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity of action more urgent and its nature more clear.” Art is essential to humanity. Art opens our eyes and minds to possibility – to beauty, to ideals, to the “necessity of action.” It challenges our assumptions and our perceptions of truth and reality.
The Santa Fe Art Institute embraces the challenge of today’s times to the core. SFAI sits on the frontier of exploring the roles art can play in forming and shaping society.
What excites me so much about the Santa Fe Art Institute and why I stepped up as Chair of the Board of Trustees, is a firm belief in the potential of a society to improve and to evolve, and in the potential of art to lead the way.
As moral and natural order is challenged in these “interesting times,” art has the capacity, the responsibility and even obligation, to act as society’s moral compass. In short, art can change the world. Artists just need a place to practice and hone their ideas, and the ability to express them with integrity and beauty.
SFAI offers its artists-in-residence, fellows, and the Santa Fe community the opportunity for critical reflection and to conceive and make art that dares to challenge social and cultural hierarchies within society and the world. The process of making art requires introspection, discipline, and determination.
SFAI offers that space.
I challenge you to step in during these interesting times – and learn how you can engage more with this fantastic, bold institution.
Marie Wilkinson is a filmmaker, documentary photographer and architect and holds degrees from Yale College and the Yale School of Architecture. In partnership with Cyril Christo, Marie has been working to document relationships between indigenous people and natural world, with a primary focus on Africa. Their interest and concerns for the elephant have evolved over the subsequent years as the poaching situation has escalated. This long-term relationship to Africa magnifies the urgency of the struggle and presents a singular lens throughout their journey.
Their photography books include In Predatory Light: In Search of Lions, Tigers and Polar Bears (Merrell, London 2013) a dedication to three endangered bioregions, and Walking Thunder: In the Footsteps of the African Elephant, prologue by Dame Daphne Sheldrick (Merrell, London 2009), a testament to the African elephant.