Art v.s. Terror: Balm for Bomb
An illustrated lecture sponsored by the Montana Committee for the Humanities for the years 2002-2006


The 9/11 attacks on the U.S. have wounded the American psyche, a wound which the most powerful tools that our society can bring to bear, like money and technology, are inadequate to heal. Although a democratic government can’t directly provide the personal remedies of religion or family love, there is one balm that can succor all universally and that can be fostered and supported by the community. And that is art.

We sink to violence only when we have run out of ideas. Terrorism tears out the roots of a community, shatters trust and leaves in its place the disease of fear. Art is the opposite of violence. Art is a synthesizer, illuminating the truth of basic goodness of creation and offers a unique emotional bond that can reconnect the most despairing person with the rest of humanity, re-forming hope in human goodness. Art affirms that the essence of humanity is not that of hell-bent destruction of the other, but rather of joyful compassion and cooperation.

Our society is completely devoid of mechanisms for addressing public grief. In a culture such as ours with few mourning rituals, art provides a means to connect with our own grief. And having acknowledged and grieved our loss, art is the only means of expressing the immensity of who we really are. It is the poetic expression that provides the spirit of balm in the face of frightening but ultimately impotent brutality.


Lecture with music and art, followed by a group discussion period.


Since our civilization is the first in history in which artists no longer speak the same language as their audience, I feel that the responsibility to bridge that gulf is shared by both sides. Therefore I feel that it is my professional obligation to bridge as much of the gap as possible myself as an artist, and to give the art-viewing audience as many tools as possible to try to do the same.

Perhaps never in our history has the need been so great for the healing power of art. Yet most all members of contemporary society are at least somewhat confused by the mysterious and at times baffling art that our culture produces and the healing role that art can play. I believe that many people feel the need for art's mollifying effect in a violent, over-masculinized world and long to understand more clearly the mysteries of art.

Tim Holmes

Copyright © 2007 Holmes Studio