2017 certainly had its ups and downs stirring us up like a soup of mixed emotions, but as 2018 dawns, we would like to focus on some optimistic things that occurred and what 2018 may hold.

Let’s talk about the ongoing explosion of diverse voices in the art world. In November, we wrote about a number of Native American artists who are redefining the representation of Native Americans, their history, cultures, and world view. This is a recent occurrence, not only in the Americas, but throughout the world. Iran’s growing film industry, the rise of dissident artists in China, and the increasingly bold statements seen in the streets throughout Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, to name a few.

At home, we also saw the rise of protest against homage statues. The debate over removal of some specific Confederate memorials, for example, that were erected in the 1960s as a response to civil rights gains opened up the forum for new conversation, perspectives, and understanding. The debate itself was not always comfortable, but it was healthy, and perhaps a necessary step to getting where we want to be.

In December, a short story in the New Yorker (“Cat Person”) sparked a national conversation while other stories in the news, such as the death of Charles Manson have yet to do so. The #metoo discussion continues as it should, as we, as a collective, restructure the norms of acceptable and non acceptable sexual behavior. "The art is what matters, it's OK if these guys were bastards” might have been said about Hitchcock and Polanski, but not now. Putting people before reputation is progress. It’s important to hold our standards if we are to remove predatory behavior from our industry and beyond.

With net neutrality gone, social media and the way it gives voice to individual people could become even more important. Especially, when so much of the world’s art depends on it.

Optimism in the New Year:

Reflecting on 2017 and where art and our voices may take us

Written by Jim Corrigan, ed. by Linda Ferrer


Rose Art Gallery, Brandeis University