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Art as Power: Changing Perceptions in Trying Times

"If fundamentalists are afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue, then Red, Black, and Green, or Pink and Lavender must give them nightmares!" Jack Whitten, Pink Psyche Queen, 1973. Acrylic on canvas; 71 × 60 in. (180.3 × 152.4 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2012.14

© MCA Chicago

As the US reels from another mass shooting that comes close on the heels of the terrorist attacks in Paris, it's natural to ask where the place and function of art is within a violent world. Artist Jack Whitten, who creates both abstract works and works that respond to death and tragedy, reflects on his life, his role as an artist, and what the power of art is and can be in "Artist Op-Eds," a series commissioned by the Walker Art Center.

"A Circle of Blood" by Jack Witten

Art has the power to heal and restore balance both in the individual and society as a whole. Art has the power to break down barriers erected by simple-minded fundamentalist thinkers who attempt to maintain power.

—Jack Witten