Our extended interview with the multidisciplinary Baha’i artist and singer/songwriter Paloma Piano now turns to a new subject: how art can transform society.
Q: In what ways do you see art contributing to social transformation?
A: I believe we are all artists—art is our inner voice that gives us our individuality as social beings. When we learn to listen to our own beauty, to our inner voice and reconcile with it, then we inevitably learn to listen to others and recognize their own voice and beauty. When you see this on a larger scale, then it’s a huge piece full of movement and color.
For me, this is how I see humanity supporting and reconciling with each other. We live in a world where there’s space for everything, there’s violence, beauty, suffering, and harmony. We are afraid, we are brave, we are lost, some are saints, others struggle to find purpose. Most of us are immersed in our heads, so it is a challenge to communicate and transmit this light that shows the divinity we all have within. As Baha’is I feel we have a special responsibility. We are all artists, creating a new society, finding the tools to shape it starting with the well-being of our own selves:
… until the old ways, the old concepts, are gone and forgotten, this world of being will find no peace, nor will it reflect the perfections of the Heavenly Kingdom. Strive ye with all your hearts to make the heedless conscious, to waken those who sleep, to bring knowledge to the ignorant, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restore the dead to life.
It behoveth you to show forth such power, such endurance, as to astonish all beholders. The confirmations of the Kingdom are with you. Upon you be the glory of the All-Glorious. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 253.
A: My intention when I create any sort of project is to unite people, to show a voice of hope, of harmony, what I consider to be beautiful. I love working with other people and learning from them, and I also love to teach what I’ve learned in this process of becoming an artist. Creating something from nothing is a challenge, is a journey, is a search, is finding new valleys, finding new meanings, meeting new people, discovering new places. I always try to be involved wherever I am and contribute with my own voice to the community, be it the Baha’i community of my city, or the community of the building that I live in, or my group of friends, wherever I am I like to get involved. Throughout my service, I call on Baha’u’llah and rely on him to give me strength:
Let thy soul glow with the flame of this undying Fire that burneth in the midmost heart of the world, in such wise that the waters of the universe shall be powerless to cool down its ardor. Make, then, mention of thy Lord, that haply the heedless among Our servants may be admonished through thy words, and the hearts of the righteous be gladdened. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 39
Q: What’s next for you? Any exciting upcoming projects that you’re working on or will soon be releasing?
A: A few days ago I released my latest work called EÓN, produced by Okraa, a Colombian musician and music producer living in London, England. This EP is a three song project that mixes piano, electronic music and my voice.