Photo by Alex Boyd
THE OPPOSITE OF WEAKNESS IS STRENGTH, but what is its antidote? Is power the panacea for powerlessness? In cases of political injustice, the answer is surely, yes. Yet, in instances of personal weakness, we can be too quick to offer prescriptions of power. Our indignation at disadvantage often blinds us to the dignity of the small, the suffering, and the dependent. We send them to specialists, enroll them in therapies, place them in homes. We focus on the need for a solution, but rarely, on the necessity of understanding. More perilously, we begin to equate functionality with value.
In our preoccupation with power, we neglect the authenticity of weakness. The vulnerable do not have the luxury of concealing their needs. The masks and walls that others maintain are too scant to cover their frailty. When we offer fixes and escapes, rather than compassion and accompaniment, we fail to encounter the profound humanity of others, and of ourselves.
Embrace must precede empowerment. This is the wisdom of frailty—and that of art. Art is powerful only in so far as it persuades us to shed our defenses, and become vulnerable to something beyond ourselves. The more fragile a work of art, the more forcefully it reveals its beauty. This fall, The Remembered Arts Journal is honored to present the powerful art of frailty. We hope that our artists’ explorations of transience, tragedy, doubt, and disability will open our readers to the possibility of beauty inherent in every human experience.
Elise Matich is an artist, educator, wife, mother, and editor. She finds inspiration in the mysterious simplicity of ordinary things. She makes time for creativity by neglecting to fold unspeakable quantities of laundry.