What do we want from our elected officials in the future?
There are a multitude of questions that need to be discussed. How do we, as a nation, have a meaningful civic discourse? Could we try new things and reserve a place for dialogue? This idea is how our studio came to creating what we call an artistic intervention into a very tumultuous election year. Meg Saligman Studios, armed with 12 artists, 10 voter “poles” and a beautiful dialogue den, piled into a truck and headed to our first stop: the RNC in Cleveland Ohio.
I have to admit that creating something beautiful and listening to others is not a terribly efficient way to shift the dialogue at a political convention. BUT- does this mean there is no place for beauty, contemplation and listening within the current political arena? No. After our installation, I have given up on great influence, large movement and a big voice (within the political realm at least). I stand firm in my belief that art is a powerful catalyst and an equalizing force that can be a part of our presidential elections and, more importantly, our continuing civic dialogue.
Before we started Our Common Ground – Vote For the Good Life, I thought our band of merry artists could get us and our agenda noticed because we were different. If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper. That was my thinking. Now, two conventions, a gallery show and several thousand participants later, I realize there is little room within our political arena for whispering or listening loudly. It’s simply not an effective way to promote change. We, together, do need to find entirely new ways to move the needle so that our national discourse includes listening. Art can help us exchange, make discoveries, it can aid us in moving the needle toward efffective dialogue. This movement could eventually lead to forward progress toward a good life for all.