60(ish) Seconds: The Power of Art

What can art do? According to art historian Sandra Seekins: a lot.


I have this mantra. The world comes to us as a gift to be known. Not to be possessed or exploited, but to be known.

This is an invitation and it comes with serious responsibilities to enter into a reciprocal relationship with the planet, to open ourselves up to the wonder of the world, to see the interconnectedness of all things: that’s an ethical stance. Artists respond to this gift that is the world and the world would be incredibly impoverished without the gift of art.

When we’re faced with complex challenges — divisive politics, climate change, a pandemic — I ask myself: What can art do? And Toni Morrison wrote: “This is precisely the time when artists get to work. There is no time for fear, no place for self-pity...”

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Art reveals our triumphs and failures. Governments understand the power of art. Because artists can challenge our perspectives, rattle us out of our complacency, spur us to action. Art shows us how to survive; it helps us envision and create the world we want to inhabit.

I always connect art to the bigger picture. I’m an art historian because I want to cultivate visual literacy in others so they can understand art’s immense role in society.