Bridging The Great Divide: Is It Possible?

Curator and gallery owner Wendy Mckay, comes from over ten years experience in the Edmonton arts community. Working closely with the artists, she helps to bring their vision to life through a process that is both personalized and creative. Wendy has an art therapy, psychology, and fine arts education background. In her work she has directed, designed, and managed art programs for a variety of artists and arts organizations. Having worked in galleries both large and small she enjoys representing emerging and established artists; holding a deep passion for arts advocacy that includes healing though creative outlets.

Opening in 2020, locally owned and operated in Edmonton Alberta Canada, Mckay Gallery plays an important role in promoting local as well as international artists. Working closely with the arts community and private curators we showcase fine art by emerging and established artists. Featuring original paintings and digital photography, the online gallery exhibits a variety of styles including abstract expressionism, contemporary, and realism. With a focus on interior design as wells as integrated cultural elements Mckay Gallery is a place where art, culture, and design converge.

“Bridges, as a metaphor, represent many things in our languages. They connect, but also separate. They carry us, but they can also break in. Bridges seem to be fixed, but are constantly in motion”. Quote from the very talented artist Dieter Hanf of his recent Bridges Series.

The symbolism behind the bridge image is poignant, considering the great crevasse that seems to have separated us humans politically and socially, as of late. MoMA’s recent webinar, The Art and Science Through Hope and Justice, tries to address this by examining our power to create community, a shared understanding and experiences of possible futures, hopes, and dreams enabling us to work through trauma/catastrophe together and healing together; justice as way of paying attention to the weakest links-the pandemic has shown this.

Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, states that social justice is “what love looks like on the streets”. What a stark contrast to what we have in reality been witnessing on our streets, in particular the USA, with looting, violence and murders. How can we lead a nation with love that has not dissolved hatred? Being in a family of Christian faith, atheism, agnosticism, and politically divided opinions, I speak from a place of wide spread ideologies, social, and political narratives. Yet, I can’t imagine shaming any one of my family members for their differing ideas let alone disowning or harming them…yes this is happening. It was a struggle to watch a webinar on hope and justice when we are so very far from this. Until the hate language stops, this cannot be. Until we reach across the isle of our set beliefs and authentically try to understand the other in a compassionate way, this cannot be.

I want to believe it is possible through our creativity, empathy, and interrelationships that we can heal these divides. But in order to tap into these possibilities we must choose to put our assumptions toward others with contrasting political and/or social ideologies aside and listen. I truly want to believe we are in a moment in history, a ‘cultural evolution’ where we can have a more just and collaborative world. In order for this to occur it requires that we ourselves be willing to change first. As Gandhi says “be the change that you wish to see in the world”. The USA election is over but we have a long way to go in terms of mending and healing a broken, deeply divided people and nation.

Whatever your political side or no side, cultural background, or religious affiliation we owe it to one another to put our disdain aside, our presumptions aside and become more quizzical enlightened beings, capable of learning from one another. Science studies how things really are in actuality but what it does not explore is what ‘could be’. Art, as well as faith, explores this realm of possibility and of imagination; of shared healing, interconnected futures, hopeful futures; dreaming a possible outcome that we prefer to have. In traditional tribal cultures it was believed that art healed the world, not just the individual. Art and music were believed to change the hunt, fertility, the crops, the weather, the life of the tribe, and the earth. Christian and Buddhist art is based on the concept that meditating on images or listening to certain sounds places a person in a ‘sacred’ state and heals.

The ancient Greek word for ‘Catastrophe’ or katastrophe is an “overturning”. It is not ignoring what has happened or happening but rather engaging in moments and creating love and or meaning through them, finding the interconnected nature of life. I implore you to read this with a mind of concern, to delve deep into your own heart. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. We are all imperfect beings but I wish to have faith in our shared humanity again…a human race that can be humble, gracious, forgiving, and kind. Yes maybe this is too propitious of me, I certainly hope not for the sake of us all. We are far more similar then dissimilar. And if indeed art can embody a depth of love for another that goes beyond the socially constructed caste systems we create, artistic of our own heart and of what is means to be in this world, perhaps it can help ‘bridge’ our great divide.

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