I get this question a lot. As if I should have explained, when I first met them, that I do, indeed, write with my left hand. That, yes, I have a bump on my ring finger because no one taught me how to write correctly and I constantly drag ink across the side of my palm. Many people comment on the connection between left-handedness and the arts— we’re said to use the right side of our brain more, which has areas that incline us towards the arts. I never thought much about my writing, and how I am part of a special 10% of the world’s population, because I knew I was represented in the arts. We’re special, right? We’re natural talents, or something.
All my thinking about my handedness made me wonder about representation: do we always feel represented in the arts? Do we feel like we have a place, or voice, to be seen and heard? As a lefty, yes, we’re everywhere. Handedness is honestly not a basis for separating people, but I think it speaks for the bigger picture. There are many people of many disenfranchised groups that do not feel represented in the arts world. They do not see people who look like them, grew up like them, or understand their work like them. They do not see young people who have worked their whole lives through art schools, endless auditions, and tears to be where they are.
So, instead of this getting us upset, and frustrated, and maybe even making us question whether there is room for us, stop and look around. Look at yourself, and other likeminded artists. This is your call to action. Do not ask for room and representation, demand it. Even better, offer yourself for representation. Further amplify your art. Just because there are not people in the galleries that look like you does not mean that there can’t be. The directors may keep getting similar scripts thrown at them, so offer yours. Offer your intellect, your diligence, and your ability to write a story that no one else can express so eloquently.
Representation matters and is deserved, so do not feel embarrassed to ask for it, or, as said, to demand it. To require it. There is room. I am currently listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, aware of how these actors and actresses were never before given the opportunity to tell this story with their own voices, or with their own music. But here they are. Demanding and commanding space and applause. And that, I think, is what our creative world is all about.
Photo credit: Mona Lisa Foundation