And what a long, strange trip you've been...
I want to express my appreciation for what you've taught me since January. Every twist and turn this year yielded value. I haven't heard much gratitude flowing your way so I thought you'd want to know where mine comes from. You see, much of my art is a study in contrasts and you, in my opinion, are a master.
2020, you've done wonders to bring out the best in people. Your pandemic added joblessness, homelessness, poverty and hunger to its toll of illness and death. Then came wildfires and floods that got me thinking this was something Biblical going on. But here's the thing: with every worsening crisis, entire communities showed up for one another. And they did so with arms extended and helping hands that lifted people in the throes of despair. I saw people who didn't have much reach out to share whatever they had. I saw strangers comforting strangers to give them the strength they needed to go on.
You also brought out the worst in people, which in a weird way was a blessing. While it was frightening to see how divided this country became, I learned quite a bit from what happened. This year was a study in values for me and I'm solidly rooted in who I am. You gave me a chance to re-calibrate my relationships and evaluate my differences with others. I heard people I loved utter racist beliefs and saw friends wear intolerance like a badge of honor. As I reflect upon your lessons going into 2021, I thank you for making me do the difficult work of weighing what values matter most in my relationships.
You sparked innovation and changed my perspective on future possibilities in my life. My Crohn's disease and immunosuppressive medications were no match for your COVID-19, so since February I've been safely tucked away from the world. But as the world shifted to accommodate coronavirus, innovation has made the world more accessible. I have taken art classes remotely at places I could never visit in person, joined events and met artists from around the globe. Last weekend, as I cheerily participated in a holiday Zoom workshop put on by the New York Collage Ensemble (@nycollageensemble) it hit me that the accessibility you forced on the world was a complete game-changer for people with chronic illness.
You also showed me how history can repeat itself when people are resistant to change. Last year I did a series of collages from vintage 1960's and 70's magazines. When George Floyd was killed and our communities recoiled in horror, what followed was eerily familiar. I saw protests and riots and government force. I saw a resurgence of open-air white supremacist gatherings and circulation of anti-Semitic tropes. I saw government leveraged for personal and political gains with callous disregard for the masses. Thank you for showing me that the majority of "real" Americans won't tolerate being referred to as anything less than "real."
Your lessons came a high cost, 2020. You sent a classmate to heaven while another hung on by a tube, and I worried every day for the lives and health of all the first responders in my world. In spite of the horror you leave in your wake, I actually see hope on the horizon. I offer you a visual of how I feel with the picture above, a first glimmer of sunlight breaking through clouds. I'm anxiously awaiting New Year's Eve... so I can forever remember the moment you're done. In conclusion, 2020, I thank you for the lessons you've given me. After you, my life will never be the same.