Art's healing properties

Our current exhibition of Alex Rose's intense, disturbing images made me think about a recent article by Randy Kennedy of the New York Times regarding the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Kennedy reported that "...[d]uring eight years of planning for the museum, amid fights over fundamental issues such as how to portray the terrorists, the question of whether to include a work of art...was never a high priority. But some people involved in the project felt strongly that art was essential."

I find it heartening that in such difficult circumstances, some argued for the role of art in helping us interpret and perhaps heal the events of 13 years ago. The politicization of public art over the past few decades has made it easier choose straight-up historical reportage for big, sensitive projects rather than to deal with the complexities of artistic interpretation. The emotional value of art in public discourse also seems jeopardized in direct relation to growth of art as an asset class. But on scales both large (the Memorial Museum) and small (artists like Rose), examples of how art helps us cope with the extreme difficulties of the human condition still abound.