August 1, 2020

Finding meaning is an art and making meaning is art

Artist Lynette Wallworth explains how art that draws on lived experiences can become a tool for transformation in the lives of others.

2 min read

All of my work is based on true story, real people, the things of life. For those I have filmed, whose lived experiences become the heartbeat of a work, I have often explained that art is taking the personal and turning it around in such a way so that it reveals the universal. The gift from those who let their stories unfold in an artwork is that their lived experiences can become a tool for transformation in the lives of others. The capacity to see the narrative in the moment and to help to elevate it into meaning is what an artist does. In the art that comes from life the hyper local and the universal entwine, the unfolding drama happening in a far-off corner can have resonances that reverberate across the politics of nations.

One of the singular inspirations of my artistic life points to exactly this idea. It is Pieter Bruegel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c1560 and the poem Auden wrote upon seeing the work in the Brussels museum where it is held. I adore this painting. It has proven to be a point of endless contemplation and inspiration for me. It is philosophically how I think about my own work.

This is an excerpt from the article Artist Lynette Wallworth explains why finding meaning is an art and making meaning is art by Lynette Wallworth.

This article is a part of a special series on the connection between inner well-being and social change, in partnership with The Wellbeing ProjectStanford Social Innovation ReviewSchwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum, and Skoll Foundation.

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a nonprofit established in 1971 and based in Geneva, Switzerland. It engages political, business, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. The WEF hosts an annual meeting every year in Davos, Switzerland, and several regional meetings, that bring together business leaders, international political leaders, economists, celebrities, and journalists to discuss global issues. The organisation also provides a platform for leaders from across stakeholder groups to collaborate on projects and initiatives.