Behind the Scenes: Finding hope in art

From the December 20, 2012 edition

Examples of Columbus artists coming together in one form of love or another are big and small, planned and unplanned.

They range from an Upper Arlington-based performing arts group’s upcoming public sessions that use drumming and dance to encourage self-healing for cancer sufferers to friends filling my Facebook feed this weekend with a picture of a local artist whom neighbors hadn’t heard from in days. (He turned out to be fine, but the high number of photo shares from members of Columbus’ arts community asking if anyone had seen him was a testament to the spirit of the scene.)

Art made by that scene is not all Kumbaya-high-fives either. Some of it is pissed off. Good. Art allows viewer and maker to face rage in a healthy way — something especially fitting to consider after the Connecticut elementary school shooting that happened last week.

Finding an artwork that is pissed off about the same things you’re pissed off about and that expresses anger in a way you never considered is healing, even if it pisses you off even more.

Art forms community. Community forms family. And when one of them is lost, they feel it.

Take Kevin Hillmann, a 24-year-old Glass Axis artist and intern. An avid biker who also helped teach kids how to bike safely, Hillmann loved the annual riding event Festivus.

“He just had such a giving heart,” said his friend and co-worker Jessica Mathews of Consider Biking. “He’d give you the shirt off his back without hesitation. He was a great listener and didn’t have a hateful bone in his body.”

Hillmann died this fall in a motorcycle accident. His “innocent, love-life spirit,” Mathews said, will be with her and her fellow riders at this Saturday’s Festivus, which includes a Huffy toss, bike pull, ugly sweater contest and bike holiday decorating portion of the evening.

Getting creative can and sometimes also needs to be goofy.

Loss inspires art. Loss also makes art mandatory.

Kevin Hillmann, on the back of the bike, at Festivus 2011.