The Art That Challenges Us

(It's a good thing I swear)

I have a plaque in my office that reads,

“Live every day with intention.”

I tend to value intentionality over just about anything else when it comes to project management and execution. I value the premeditated. After all, it’s through living intentionally that we are able to be aware of other’s needs, the marginalized among us, and even how best to serve those we love. Leadership is primarily paying attention. With intentionality framing my life and the various decisions that I make, it would of course bleed its way into my consumption, critique, and creation of art. I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality lately, specifically in regard to artists and their processes. And while intentionality is not the end-all for good art it is certainly a big factor.

If intentionally is such a large factor with creating art, then should it not also be a large factor in the way we consume said art? I gave a Thursday Talk (this new thing I’m doing on Instagram, it’s fine) a couple of weeks ago where I spoke on the importance of knowing who is behind the camera in the films we watch. I said that this level of intentionally (looking to see who writes and directs these movies) can support people of color and women far beyond what we can imagine. Following these directors and writers and composers and supporting the work they do is extremely important in seeing similar work continually produced. This led me to a new topic. Artists are intentional in what they create, we are intentional with who we support, now we must be intentional in what we consume.

We should consume art that challenges us.

It goes without saying that good art (that is, art that speaks the truth, challenges the truth, and presents both in a beautiful way), should challenge us in some way. However, in this generation, we are more often than not, looking for ways to escape. We stay away from art that asks us to confront our biases or makes us remotely uncomfortable. Because of this, I want to encourage those who are reading this to not back down from viewing art that may make you uncomfortable, that may challenge you. This isn’t to say that a rom-com here and an action flick there are bad, but if that’s all we are consuming, are we really allowing our mind to expand in the way it has the capacity to do?

I’m sure interest plays a large role in the art we choose to consume, but there are some things that have to lie beyond our interests. I’ll stay away from telling anyone what to do, but I do highly implore us to find the art that does challenge us. The art that makes us think, that makes us wrestle with whatever preconceived notions we currently have. Not only does this make us better humans, but it also makes us more empathetic, and more willing to listen.

Stay tuned for some art (films and books and dare I say it, theatre) that I think we should all see and interact with at some point in our lives. Of course, what challenges me may not challenge you, so (I feel like a broken record here) be intentional with what you choose.