Justin Kane Elder
What is important? The relevance of this question has taken on a new light with the passing of last year. 2020 was the year the world stopped to consider this very idea. The normalcy of our past will never be seen again, even when the wave has crested, and the clouds have parted. We will still remember when we became whole. What do I mean by the statement? This is the first time our modern culture has faced a globally unifying event, reshaping how we see ourselves and those around us. Sure there was conflict and heartache, but overall it was a world of support, a place where we reached out to others as they were reaching out to us. It was the year “distance” took on a new meaning, never has 6 feet felt so far away, and never before did our neighbors' smiling face mean more to us.
As I asked myself, “what matters?” I began seeking answers, researching many fields to gain a broader perspective of this issue, so I could craft my response, which uncovered a world of knowledge that was new yet oddly familiar. Every day brought a new leap, each month another evolution, with the seasons came a new self, until a year later a new human sat in my place. It was as if asking that question, “what matters?” turned the lights on. Not to say I’m an enlightened being. I’ve just sat up out of bed and placed my feet on the ground. Now I’m able to take my first steps forward, knowing where I’m going. Those steps lead me to keep sharing what I’ve discovered through all means necessary because the more knowledge we have, the greater our potential becomes. Sharing has become a very potent concept since the distance that separates us is only a click away. It quietly became our unspoken coping mechanism, as isolation was required. This isolation caused many of us to turn inward, only to find then ourselves turning back around to share what we had seen. We had to adapt and adopt new ways to spread this knowledge, but we persevered and began to find unity through our individuality. By sharing ourselves and what we were going through, we grew closer.
There is positive change happening everywhere. It may not be newsworthy or
groundbreaking, but therein lies its strength because subtlety is a slow wave that touches everything. I’ve seen a growing compassion amongst people, simple things like holding the door for another, or politely stepping aside to let an elder pass. There is a consideration present that wasn’t there before, back when things were “normal” we barely took time to look down at our feet. Now people see each other for better or worse and they see a world that hasn’t collapsed into chaos, it has evolved through love and kindness. Small acts like helping your neighbor, thanking the postman for their service, or calling up an old friend has reinforced that we are not alone.
Last year will not soon be forgotten but I thank you for spending your time with me as I am very eager to share the many projects I have underway to be unveiled in the next few years. There will be paintings of course, but also sculptures, an art book series, another layer club, illustrated story books, music, murals, and much more. For now let me leave you with a moment I witnessed while painting a mural in Seattle during the height of this summer's frenzy. It was a small surreal act that reminded me that now is the future and you can’t spell the word evolve without love.
The future waits with each step we take.
Friday 7:33 AM the corner of 36th and Finney.
The once great Boulevard reduced to the emptiness of isolation.
An eerie mist rolls over the crosswalk.
10 minutes pass with no traffic.
The sound of nature fills the streets.
Stillness hangs heavy over the concrete.
A lone trumpet bellows out, catching my attention.
It heralds a procession, nature has returned.
Slowly the two parents shepherd the flock into new realms.
The busy life they once knew has grown silent.
That silence compels them forward searching.
There they passed me staring in disbelief.
A family of geese headed down the middle of the barren promenade.
Entranced I followed close behind as they slowly and cautiously crossed the street.
Not a single car or human was in sight.
It was the landscape of a dream, surreal and beautiful lucid with purpose, urging me to share the knowledge that only through love do we become what the world has been waiting for us to remember.