Believe That Art Matters


This is what I woke up thinking about… Paris happened. Lebanon happened. Syria happened. Lots of terrible stuff has happened recently. And it will keep happening.

And, how we interact with hardships/challenges is in our own hands.


The people who are trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?”Bob Marley


I propose today that we artists ponder how we are changing the world with the creation of our work, and how we can make it a better place.


How can you approach your career like you are changing the world?


Art can inspire and change lives for the better. That’s why you became an artist –  you’ve already been changed by believing that there is value in art. Spread that value, use it, share it.


Our artistic work matters.

If you are still questioning if art matters, make that list of films or TV shows that have stayed with you for years.


What were you watching in your formative years?

Your list is maybe more sophisticated than mine… but even something as silly as reruns of Gilligan’s Island totally impacted me as a child – I laughed and imagined a far away place in my mountain town in Virginia. My imagination was stirred – I didn’t even notice when the black and white shows were colorized. It was already in color in my mind.

The TV series reruns of M*A*S*H was how I first learned about Vietnam, and how to make laughs in bad situations. As an adult I can see how smart was the writing and how brilliant the actors were in those roles.

Sneaking into see Sixteen Candles when I wasn’t quite “legal” to see it gave me insight into what to expect at high school.

The Breakfast Club taught me that being an outsider is okay.

I learned about being too proud to be in love in Fellini’s La Strada.

Boys Don’t Cry educated me on a human need I had never considered or known personally. I can’t imagine the lives that film might have saved.

And the list goes on of the films that have impacted me…


What art has impacted you?

Oh yes, paintings! Seeing Georgia O’Keefe’s exhibit at a museum totally rocked my teenage artistic self. Something about the expression in her paint strokes, the muted bright colors (I repainted my bedroom the colors of New Mexico), and the lonely spirit of the southwest just really spoke to me. Picasso’s distortions, Matisse’s figures and colors, Louise Nevelson’s monochromatic sculptures… oh my gosh, art has made me melt.


The influence of art runs deep.

All of this art that we experience over a lifetime makes us who we are as humans and, of course, as artists.


Today, in honor of using art to make our world a better place, I invite you all to create.


Off the top of my head…


~ Gather artists together to create new work.

~ Ask how your art can inspire. (don’t discount comedy in the midst of tragedy, like A Beautiful Life or Saturday Night Live skits, or drama that others relate to, like Blue Valentine, The Danish Girl)

~ Talk about art with a young person.

~ Explore an art form that you have not yet experienced.(Screenwriting, sewing, pottery anyone??)

~ Praise an artist colleague.

~ Make art (film a scene, write something, rehearse)…and don’t judge it.


Believe that Art is important.


Please share your thoughts on how to work to change the world with your art.


Or, what art impacted you?

I would love to hear more inspirations from you all!


Much peaceful artistic love to you all,


  1. Carly ZIen says

    I believe that artists are as essential as doctors and lawyers. We need stories and art to survive. If news about Syria, Paris, Lebanon, Mali, etc, are impacting our hearts and our left brains, then we need to nourish and heal our hearts and our right brains with art.

    I have a mentee who is an activist and she often shares with me about how devastated she feels by world events. I am inspired by her, and I always encourage her to go to museums, watch something funny, draw, paint, create. We heal through art.

    Thanks for writing, Heidi. xx

  2. Carole Monferdini says

    Heidi, I was playing one of the seven Women of Corinth in a wonderful production of Medea at Pittsburgh Public Theatre when the events of 9/11 unfolded. On that day, we were to begin our first tech rehearsal. So many of my friends remarked to me how difficult it must be for me to be performing in a Greek tragedy at this terribly sad and frightening time for America.

    On the contrary! It totally affirmed my belief that art matters– deeply. Here was a story over 2000 years old that was even more relevant the day after 9/11 than the day before. Medea was a terrorist, too. She brought the powerful and popular Jason to his knees by doing the unthinkable, murdering his children.

    And at a time when so many brave firefighters and police officers lost their own lives in a futile attempt to save others, at a time when “all else fails”, we desperately need food for the soul. I sensed the truth of this in the response of the audiences who came to see the play. It was some comfort at that troubled time to be able to share this experience with them. It was indeed an expression of that basic primal urge that we as humans have–the need to congregate to acknowledge our feelings and our humanity when everything around us conspires to overwhelm us. It gives us the strength to keep on when “all else fails”.

  3. Miriam Morales says

    I love this Heidi! When I was little it was soaps that impacted me; my aunts and uncles watched it all the time. As in got older it was poetry. I believe that our art changes the world when it changes us first. When we create our own work that is meaningful to US it then becomes impactful to others.

  4. Lisann says

    This was really great to read. With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to get into a slump and question whether any of this is meaningful.

    For me, in my own life, it certainly is, but the questions arise in the grand scheme of things. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? So thank you for this. Because Art does make the world a better place, one person at a time. xo

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