I Feel Love

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.” —Oscar Wilde

Exhibitions i feel love banner

Love “feels” differently for each one of us. We feel love for both the tangible and the intangible. We feel it for ourselves and for others. We feel it for our partners, children, communities, and nations. We feel love in remembrance and contemplation. Oftentimes, we feel deep love for the unknown, through our spiritual and our moral compasses. And, perhaps more than we like to admit, we feel love for all kinds of material objects—our i-gadgets, our zoom zoom, or our life’s little luxuries. But no matter however and for whatever we feel love, it plays a profound role in the way we perceive and live in the world around us. The Apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians that love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” But, for all of its beautiful poetry, it’s difficult to read Paul’s words and not question their applicability to contemporary culture. The charitable love the author writes about doesn’t feel as pronounced as it should be, or even as it used to be. It seems we have become increasingly cynical and judgmental, increasingly jaded by the cool detachment of individualism, and easily led away from love by a desire to compete, succeed, or even survive.

In an age when the volume of love seems turned down, when common feelings of love have become muted, how much more difficult is it for us to feel a less common love—for example, feeling love for people who are different from us, who do not, as some think, “fit in”? And herein begins a conversation about love for the other and about a passion for diversity and inclusion that’s at the heart of this art exhibition. It’s no coincidence that the show’s title borrows from a sculpture within the show, one that spells the phrase “I Feel Love” in carved wood, made to look like a neon sign. The rigidity of the wood renders the object static and unanimated, extinguished from its “prior” electric existence. A parallel can be made here about the absence of love (the dimness of emotion) for people whose lives stand out as different from what is “normal.” For example, it’s fairly often that we find “acceptance” is the highest form of affection from people outside the GLBT community toward people within the GLBT community. But while acceptance is a cornerstone of democracy and community, it is, at best, a flimsy form of love. This is, of course, to say nothing of the pervasive attitudes of hatred that are also a part of this discussion. And hatred, far worse than mere acceptance, is the complete and utter absence of love. “I Feel Love,” then, as both a title for the exhibition and as an iconic artwork in the exhibition, as gentle as the phrase sounds, is a challenge for us all to feel love in ways that we may not be entirely used to or even overly comfortable with at first. “I Feel Love” encourages us to reach out beyond our comfort zone, to self-ignite respect, understanding, empathy, and even love for each other—igniting back to neon what has become balsa.

Selections from “I Feel Love”