Exhibiting Love

Artwork by Hannah Mizell

By Hannah Mizell

Theses are far from an uncommon topic to cover for Infinite Wisdom. After all, it is only human nature that we love to talk about ourselves. In this case, I understand the need to prove that our hard work is worth it to those who have no idea what said work entailed. As someone who is just starting work on her own thesis, I had not planned to write anything about it until later in the semester, perhaps the year. Infinite Wisdom’s transition into doing themed months changed my plan.

My thesis is love exhibited in material form. It is the concept for a travelling museum exhibition of American art created in reaction to the November 16, 2015 Paris attacks and the French art created after we, ourselves, were attacked last June in Orlando. Though some may argue that the motives are incomparable, I still believe that both incidents were attacks meant to obliterate the concept of love.

In Orlando’s case, the concept of love is clear: Love is the connection between two people, regardless of race or gender. The connection that makes going deaf from pulsating beats and blind from the strobe lights that dance across the floor insignificant when that person, that single soul in your life, is present. That joy you feel when your hands touch and your eyes meet simply blocks everything out. Psychology could probably point you in the direction of why that happens, but, in my opinion, it’s one of the last bits of magic left here on earth. Unfortunately, anyone with a minute experience in history knows what kind of reaction people have to magic. In some cases, the powers that be try to boil this wonderful phenomenon down to a science. Some closed-minded people compare love to a recipe, as if it is successful only if certain ingredients are mixed and added in a certain way and baked for a certain time. Others go the extra mile by destroying any dish that does not meet the bigot’s qualifications to be considered food. The Orlando attacker, whose name I refuse to acknowledge, was one of those people.

With Paris, the concept of love is harder to see in just one place or time. The love that the attackers destroyed more than a year ago was not between two people, but between hundreds of thousands. The love of Paris is the roar of a thousand strangers when a soccer player makes a goal. Here, love is the shared, excited gaze of two people who share nothing in common except the colors of the jerseys they wear, and the war paint they have dutifully smeared across their faces in support of a team. Further down a Paris street, love is the silent thanks a customer gives to a chef as they savor their first bite of a delicious meal. Even the waiters and waitresses, who have worked endless hours on their feet, show love through the way they balance countless plates on one hand while never spilling a single drop of soup. Even further down that same road, love is found in an undulating mass of hundreds in the dim light of a concert hall. Love is the supportive cheering at a group of musicians who have devoted their lives to a craft so many appreciate but so few understand. When two people keep bumping into each other while dancing to whatever beat they wish, love is their silent understanding of each other’s clumsiness and musical immersion. But, even this love could not protect that November night’s casualties.

My exhibition, Convergent, displays a form of love that those men could not destroy: solidarity. The pieces exhibited within were created to say, “I support you. We may not share a home, but I support you.” Some pieces are detailed and some consist of a few strokes of a marker or pencil. Their complexity does not matter, but their existence does. On that note, it is important to remember where these works were first posted. They first reached the world’s eyes in the form of social media. In some cases, I will agree that social media has created unneeded societal divisions. In this case, however, I think that sites like Instagram and Twitter have given us the opportunity to bring love back to places where it was once obliterated.

Though I stray away from politics in my actual thesis, I will admit that politics is what brought me to this keyboard in the first place. Regardless of who tries to divide us, be it men in the capital or close to home, please remember that love can never be truly destroyed. People will try to hide it, suppress it, and punish those who dare defy them, but love will always find a way back.


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