Art, Empathy, and O-1B Visas

I wrote a piece for Cultural Weekly this week on the importance of art by non-American artists in this volatile, uncertain, and troubling time for immigrants (Charlottesville, DACA) in this country. I talk about the Safarani sisters in particular - talented, Boston-based artists that recently gained residency through O-1B visas for extraordinary ability. 

It's been difficult for me to process some of what I've read and seen over the past couple of weeks, and this piece is a response to some of the feelings I've had. 

  Pause , Safarani Sisters, 2017. This painting is overlaid with a subtle video projection - rain on the window pane and fabrics moving in the breeze - which compels the viewer to spend more time with the piece. Image courtesy of the artists. 

Pause, Safarani Sisters, 2017. This painting is overlaid with a subtle video projection - rain on the window pane and fabrics moving in the breeze - which compels the viewer to spend more time with the piece. Image courtesy of the artists. 

The big takeaway is that while political art is useful, cathartic, relevant, and definitely important, art doesn't have to be political to bring us together. If it provokes empathy for another person, culture, or belief system, it builds a bridge that can help us move in a positive direction. 

Natalie Lemle