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Art is a Mirror

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This essay is part of a continuing meditation on meaning in the arts.

Everyone has seen photo-mosaics – and many have made them these days – those fascinating works in which hundreds of small images are arranged so that, when seen all together, they form another, conglomerate image. Hundreds of images of birds can combine into the image of another, larger bird. Hundreds of faces or figures can be combined to show almost anything.

In this same way, the arts are a mirror held up to humanity. All our works, taken together, combine to show us what and who we are. The more works we have, the higher the resolution of the resultant ‘image.’

We may not like or appreciate some part of what we are seeing. Some of the smaller, contributing tiles in the mosaic may seem dull or unappealing, or even displeasing. But imagine if we disliked the color gray and therefor removed all the gray tiles from a mosaic, leaving white plaster in their place – how the image would be distorted, blotched and speckled.

Who wants a mirror all blotched and speckled because we block out the parts of our own image we find displeasing? That is to say, every artist, every voice, has something to contribute to a larger truth and we are better off looking for where these contributions best fit than we are in denying them a place.

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