((Excerpt from "Art For The People: A Collector's Journal"))
Is it a word or a political powder keg?
Is it a viable concept or a pipe dream? Nothing sparks debate, anger, confusion, hatred or dare I say, hope like the word itself. Few people want to take it on, so I'll go there.
Let's talk about ... DIVERSITY.
Before you turn the page, hang with me for a moment.
I got the idea to write about diversity just moments ago. I was flipping through the latest issue of Art Review, which I bought this afternoon. It's right here beside me. As I look, I'm reminded about how great art publications put humanity first and art second. This one certainly does that ... which got me thinking about diversity.
Unfortunately, if you live in North America, diversity conjures up questions of race, affirmative action, quotas, minority hiring, reverse discrimination, immigration, etc. It's a word that can either make you roll your eyes in frustration or stamp your feet in defiance.
In fact, the next time you're at work, try this ... Go stand in the middle of the office and yell out, "DIVERSITY NOW!" And just watch the party start. Fun times! More likely than not, a hush will fall over the room like a space shuttle dream turned nightmare. People will freeze. Worse case scenario, words will be exchanged, fists will fly and someone will call security. Party over.
As we all know, diversity in its simplest, non-political form simply means, VARIETY. Funny, but America is a nation that demands variety every single day. We want the best product, we want the best person, we want the best of everything. But guess what? We can only get the best if we have a variety of options, yes, diversity.
I kid you not, but whenever I think diversity, I think about gardens. I'm no garden aficionado, but who doesn't appreciate a large garden that's full of different kinds of flowers and vegetables? Somehow, diversity works in nature.
It makes it complete ... and interesting. A rose co-exists just fine with a lilly which co-exists just fine with a daffodil which co-exists just fine with a tulip ... or tomato. Nothing dominates, they all just co-exist and complement one another. I could really bring this home by breaking into a chorus of "We Are The World," but I'll spare you.
My art collecting has taught me that I should no longer be so steeped in my own culture and ways of doing things that I refuse to see the truth when it's being expressed by someone of another culture. We all do this. I'm not going to take sides out of blind loyalty anymore. To do so only degrades me. What is right, true and good should trump everything. People always blame politicians for being political and divisive, but the average Joe at work is just as political and divisive, in my book. It's time to stop.
I see so much diversity in art. One of the things that I love about art is that it's almost as broad and yes, diverse as life itself. That's partly why I can't stop writing about it. People always ask me what type of art I collect. I collect everything that I can afford. Why should I limit myself?
I own so many different types of paintings and art. I have lovely still-lifes and kick-ass graffiti pieces. I own big abstracts on canvas and small figurative watercolors on paper. The artists themselves are from such diverse backgrounds. I'm thrilled to say that I like them all. I collect art, but in a strange way, I think that I'm really collecting people … all kinds of people.
At the end of the day, despite their varying backgrounds, experiences and artwork, they're all simply artists ... they’re just people. My home is a powder keg of creativity ... a kaleidoscope of humanity ... a place of profound peace where all of these ideas, thoughts, opinions and yes, people co-exist.
It's diversity defined. A big, bombastic, blow out party that won't stop. Such fun. Isn't there anyone out there who wants to have fun anymore? Diversity done right should be a party. And you know a party isn’t really a party …
... until somebody calls security.