Modernity was a fascinating time because so many artists were shattering every convention and who doesn’t love watching a good demolition? However, they were building through their destruction and manifested the beautiful paradox of moving forward into the future by looking backwards and in some ways seeming to “regress.” The progression of art history from Realism through Minimalism reads like a systematic destruction of every traditional ideal while simultaneously opening new doors to many exciting possibilities. Today, however, we are faced with a challenge. Should we continue barreling forward with this mindset of destruction? The artists of modernity were reshaping art in the aftermath of the profound cultural upheavals of two world wars and the rapid changes in technology and philosophy. It seems many of today’s artists are still making every effort to pulverize any shard left by modernity. Is that really what we need now? Is there anything left to break?
It is time to take advantage of the rubble of shattered conventions and to reconstruct new systems. Perhaps not new systems that try to achieve a universal, one-size-fits-all, set of rules, but systems that seek the unique, the applied, the specific to place, community, and time. Let’s stop trying to break things and start employing the freedom bought by modernity to rebuild.