Art and Its Place in the Unsolvable Millennial Angst

  • by Francesca Testa

Hitting 23 hits harder than when 22 hit me but not as hard when 21 hit me. Reaching this age is like a mid-game boss battle but you're on expert mode (even if you suck at playing anything at all) and you don't really know how to get around it and win. It's a trial and error process until you survive and realize, the game has updated and given you a hundred more levels to play until the next boss battle. Admit it, being a millennial sucks. This overcaffeinated generation is plagued with clichés like entitlement, burn out, cancel culture, anti-marriage, anti-kids, wrong degrees, underemployment, not helping mama around the house, and online shopping. These are just a few things that are now a part of your identity. Don't look at me; I didn't make the rules.

Cartellino Art in Millennial Angst
Installation view of Naufal Abshar, I Cannot Afford Love, Mixed media on canvas, 170 x 120 cm | Photo courtesy of ArtPorters

Yet through all these labels, we've come to survive with a slap on each boomer's face one way or another. There are many means for us to express and there can't be a better time than now to prove that not all millennials are AirPod-wearing sneakerheads who buy matcha lattes in Starbucks every morning. At 22, I didn't have a single clue at who I am or who I wanted to be. Not that I have a clue now of where I am headed but I definitely am starting to know who I am. When I was introduced to the arts industry—both the business and creative side—I have come to realize that there are times when succumbing to uncertainties can really put you at a certain space where you'll find redemption. Art is a lot more powerful than I had thought it would be.

“Disabilities have become shadows of the strength that a painting tool or a pencil can make.”

We often find our selves stuck while everyone else is moving forward but we don't see that our eyes are way more open to the realities of the world. Our selfish thoughts are often overpowered if not influenced by what benefits the greater good. Millennials—as far as urban definitions go—are a lot more "woke" and involved. And while a lot of people are strapped with the idea of changing the world in a bigger scale, the arts create a platform for young generations (including Gen Z) to explore these topics and open up discussions that have long been silenced by oppression. Disabilities have become shadows of the strength that a painting tool or a pencil can make. As paint leaks to the canvas or as graphite lines a paper, we find truths hidden for generations and held back by those in power.

Cartellino Art in Millennial Angst
Morysyetta, Nothing, Print on paper, 11.7 x 8.3 inches | Photo courtesy of The Artling

These things are what empowers today's millennials—not online shopping or the latest Marvel movie. These things drive us to consume or to put out products for others to consume. The arts have played a potent role in allowing millennials to be recognized with not only experiences and age upon their sleeves but with actual skills and that degree—the right degree. Art has pulled a generation to turn back from capitalistic consumerism and towards conscious consumerism. Despite the financial instabilities we fear, we are driven by these worries and keeps us afloat until the next time. We have found companionship with people we have yet to meet through their works of art. What we see through each work of art has now become a reflection of society or the self and even with times as confusing as this, we are certain of who we are, or at least have found the right path to who we want to be.

Anchor photo courtesy of Unsplash