top of page

Right now, in any corner of the world there are countless atrocities taking place, challenging the will power of intuitive creatives bearing witness. People all over will say, in one way or another that we are living through the end times. Climate change, religious conflict, war, and the pandemic have all been sources of apocalyptic anxiety. Meanwhile artists continue to create art intended to exist well into the future. Trusting humanity to continue to connect and enjoy art is an optimistic place from which to create.

The act of creating art, in any medium under any circumstance, is at its core a hopeful act. Regardless of the content or creator, sharing something new with the world expresses a confidence that there will still be a world out there to receive it. Painters who start a new project can imagine this work to exist decades, maybe centuries into the future if correctly preserved. In the grand scheme of time that is no small feat. Lovers of antiquity can appreciate this quality as much as lovers of modernity. History and any artist retrospective can reveal the journey to prominence through preserved experiments saved for the future and shared with the world. Many artists have seen this strange period in history as an opportunity to use art as a sign of the times for their audiences and a preserved experiment saved for the future. In the future, this moment in art history will reveal significant insights about humanity and its response to adversity.

In the year and a half since the pandemic began, the need for fresh ideas that bring people together intellectually has been fulfilled by creatives. During the first half of 2021 the world experienced extreme hopeful highs and desperate lows, and creatives held hands with the public and carried us through with their future oriented practices. Artists allowing themselves at least the vulnerability to create freely amidst chaos and despair, then allowing others to experience feeling that vulnerability with them has allowed art to transcend the need for certainty. Artists acknowledge the uncertainty and walk alongside it rather than fighting it. Creating in the face of uncertainty is why artists must have a positive view of humanity to continue to connect with their audience.

Climate change, political upheaval and war all threaten art because art requires connection and vulnerability. This creative exposure is why any creator must be at least a reluctant optimist. Even the most edgy, angsty work is attempting to connect to others and share an emotional experience. In the age of extreme isolation and individualism the artistic practice challenges society’s hesitancy to be authentic. From learning new ways to document and share the creative process to virtual shows and discussions, the innovative creators have altered history as the world lived through it. Reminiscent of the atmosphere during World War II when the masterpieces from the Louvre were being whisked away before the Nazis took Paris, the sudden closure of art museums, music venues and creative communities everywhere around the world signaled the urgency of the need to safeguard both the creative process and the individuals that make it possible.

As the world is reemerging the arts have been top priority after the months of separation from the physical space. Just like an armistice after conflict can bring widespread jubilation, large shared artistic experiences following a year of collective loneliness will be a transcendent event for society. This innately human occurrence mirrors the profound nature of ceremonial practices in past societies.

The hope of humanity is in the future right now, and artists are tapping into that potential as they work. While the world will continue to change, artists will be at the forefront of aiding in understanding our shared human experience. If you love art continue to find ways to support the arts and artists who are still alive to enjoy the praise, and if you are a creator embrace the possibility of the future and continue to create. The best is always yet to come.

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

My grandfather, Frank Lesinski Sr., was many things, but most of all he was a storyteller and an optimist. Even after Alzheimer’s concluded his story, he left behind an abundance of materials with which to see the world through his eyes. I knew him as my Paw who cheered at my tee ball games in elementary school and always bought me art supplies to encourage me to paint. His memory had diminished by the time I graduated high school, but his stories of travel, and his account of witnessing history inspired me to study both international politics and art at my university. My image of my grandfather was limited because by the time I was maturing mentally, he had lost most of his ability to share his stories firsthand.

My first year in college I was reading the classics, and occasionally, he would hear a quote from Plato or Locke and his eyes would light up. In those small moments he would reconnect to his younger self, but mostly he was stuck somewhere between the past and the present. My father and even my older brother got to know him in a way that I did not. They had years as complex adults to understand his perspectives and develop their own image of him. I had to construct one. The saving grace was that my grandpa left behind decades of letters, love notes, maps, and post cards from his time as a Merchant Marine and his almost sixty-year marriage with my grandma, so I was able to piece his story together for myself.

In the fifties he first wrote to my future grandma as a single father of four, out at sea trying to provide for his children and serve his country at the same time. It started out as a supportive friendship, with my grandma taking my uncles to school and doctors’ appointments, my grandpa lovingly waiting for her updates. She shared their struggles with elementary school and the current music that was sweeping the nation, and he cautioned her from doing more than she could handle and particularly from falling for men at sea. She was already in love and patiently waited for him to return to marry her and have a child of their own, my dad. He never missed an opportunity to express his gratitude and even called her his “Rock of Gibraltar,” highlighting his particularly intellectual love language.

When I was abroad studying in Spain, it was no coincidence as I traveled to Morocco, passing the Rock of Gibraltar that I felt a strange connection knowing he had been in almost the same place in a much different time. Over the years I have read and reread the letters from his time at sea and tried to position many unlabeled photos left behind in place and time. I have incorporated his words and images in my art as a means of processing his absence in my life. I hope he would appreciate posthumously contributing to my artistic process.

The hardest part of losing him is wondering what he would have said. I wish I could ask him about what it was like returning from sea and graduating from Washington University in 1980 after years of working full time and attending night classes. I wonder what he would think about politics today, because he was never at a loss for words or opinions. I wish I could hear him support his wife through carrying on his memory and enduring breast cancer treatment, because he would be so proud of her. Over the past year I have thought about what it would have been like to still have him around every day. The profound challenges that so many other families experiencing Alzheimer’s have made me wonder how he would have handled the pandemic. He was relentlessly optimistic, and I know he would have been a source of light.

As I prepare to graduate college this May, almost three years after his passing to the day, I wish I could ask him about his yearbook quote from his senior year in 1947. I would ask how he was able to see past the chaos of living through history and the uncertainties of the future. I would ask how he knew he would have such an amazing story to tell. I would ask how he had the forethought to know that without a doubt “The best is yet to come."

bottom of page