Fiction writer Michael Downs recently received the largest Individual Artist Award given by the Maryland State Arts Council. In this frank yet philosophical talk, he ponders the role of art in a world rampant with violence and tragedy.
What follows is adapted from remarks made at the Maryland State Arts Council’s reception for winners of 2013 Individual Artist Awards. This year, the state government supported 87 Maryland artists, writers, and performers. The reception was held May 20 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
Moments before, they had been running: Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour laced in tight knots across their unhappy feet, feet which had complained at Mile 11 or 18 or 22, but hurt no longer because this was the finish and nothing hurt anymore, not their crunchy ankles or their sore knees or that sharp cramp felt near the heart just a few strides ago. Those quicker runners who had already arrived ate bananas and smiled for cell-phone cameras, hands upraised and fingers making a V for victory, not for peace, not really, though peace is a thing much wished for, a thing on which so much depends.