Art and the heart’s transformation

February 26, 2012

Creativity, Spiritual

At its best, art is a cry of the soul that bypasses our mind’s insistence on status quo.

by Jane Smith Bernhardt — 

One of the extraordinary things about being human is that we are uniquely capable of great and rapid evolution. Where other species rely on Darwinian natural selection, we often take massive leaps in awareness and behavior. What inspires these leaps? What plants the seeds of outrage or new inspiration?

I believe that art has a great role to play in this transformation, because, at its best, art is a cry of the soul that bypasses our mind’s insistence on status quo. Art can simply stir our hearts. Instead of describing a situation in linear language, creative expression transmits the energy of this state.

It has been said that the plays inspired by the book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” galvanized the abolition movement in America. After experiencing these poignant and popular plays, a sensitive soul could no longer close itself off from such injustices. The list is long of paintings, books, speeches, poems and dances that have called our hearts to greatness. Each of us has a personal favorite, whether it is Ben Kingsley’s film, “Gandhi,” or Picasso’s unforgettable painting, Guernica.

Not all art is inspirational, but much of it offers a vital mirror in which we can see what it means to be human and reminds us of our heart’s deepest joys and longings by giving us a taste of what is possible. It asks us to drop our guard for a moment to join in an experience: This is what is feels like to be in love … remember? This is the adrenaline of courage. This is the pure faith that beats in the heart of a child.

When we have lost our way because the dross of habit has clogged our path, a moment of pure inspiration can wash us clean and wake us from our trance. Here is the life you can have, art cries to us. This is what it feels like — try it on. Seize it now!


Jane Smith Bernhardt is an artist, performer and writer. She is the author of  We Are Here: Love Never Dies, which chronicles an extraordinary period of three family deaths and many miracles of joy and forgiveness.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2010.

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