“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Theodore Parker 1853 (quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barak Obama)
Artist, Carla Rae Johnson organized this creative, collaborative project involving bound notebooks completed by artists, writers, and critical thinkers. In 2018, Carla Rae invited thoughtful, creative individuals she knew to complete a bound notebook that responded to the quote above. The invitation stated:
This is an opportunity to envision our future, the “arc of the moral universe,” and the fate of our planet by recording your ideas, your feelings, and your vision to share with others. The 2016 presidential election in the U.S. and other social/political events around the globe, have ushered in challenging times.Creative people are the ones to register these events and respond in hopeful, compassionate, and positive ways.
Participation in this project is open to everyone.All nationalities, ethnicities, orientations, ages, professions, faiths, and gender identities are welcome! Participants will include people from all walks of life, (not just those self-identified as artists or writers).So, no matter what you do to make a living, or how you define yourself, you are welcome to participate in this project!Your pages do not have to be profound, or perfect, or literary, or “artistic!” They only need to be authentically your own.
The fruits of this invitation are more than 70 notebooks filled with: drawings/sketches, poetry, writing, lyrics, journaling, word art, cartoons, puzzles, collages, questions, photos, montages, rubber stamping, stickers, cutting, fold-outs, ideas, graphics, protests, digital art, prints of artworks, abstractions, or non-objective art of color, line, texture, shapes, and shadings. Arc participants come from the Northeast, Midwest, South, and Southwest in the United States. Participants agreed to complete a 96 page notebook in one year (July 4, 2018- July 4, 2019), and could choose to fill their notebook by themselves, or to collaborate with others to fill one or both sides of the pages. Contents include personal observations and opinions, visual ideas, political/social commentary, poetry, and stories: all generated to reflect upon the arc and its trajectory. The intention is to provide a format for consistent creative acts that will give viewers of the “Arc” an intimate look into contemporary creative minds and how they respond to our current times.The “Arc” documents one year in each of their emotional and intellectual lives.
The “Arc of the Moral Universe: a Notebook Project” is traveling to exhibition sites at art centers and libraries in New York State, and beyond.