Art brings light
“Science will get us out of this, but art will get us through it.” —Mo Willems
In a television interview, Mo Willems, author of books for children and winner of six Emmy Awards for his work on Sesame Street, offered the above insight about our pandemic.
The magic of the great artists, poets, storytellers and cartoonists is that they remind us of the truth that a good picture is worth a thousand words.
I go to only two cartoons in the “funny papers” any more. Both, usually because they warrant it, share the funny front page with Blondie, Dagwood and Charlie Brown.
Several Sundays ago, both cartoons got to me. The first was Mark Tatulli’s “Lio.” Lio lives with his father, monsters, aliens and other creatures. Each story is almost all visual, with few or no words. In the first frame, Lio was casually walking down a sidewalk. In the second and third frames, a giant monster, mouth agape, approached Lio. The fourth frame was total darkness. In the fifth frame, Lio was walking inside an esophagus or intestine-like pink tunnel. The final frame featured Lio staring at a sign on the tunnel’s wall with a drawing of a house with three words underneath: “Shelter in Place.”
How like our quarantine; how like Jonah’s incarceration inside the belly of the beast.
Ex-lawyer Stephan Pastis created “Pearls before Swine.” His cast of characters includes Pig, Rat, Zebra, Goat and several crocodiles. In this story, Pig reads a list of “Things I Want in 2019,” like a 60-inch TV plus five other items. In the last frame, Pig had scratched out 2019 and made it 2020, scratched out everything on his 2019 list and replaced it with two words in all caps: MY HEALTH.