The Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral, Unalaska

A Good Year for the Arts Update: July 2016

You may recall I declared this to be my year of the arts and encouraged others to do so. (See Here is what I’ve been doing about it lately, and what these different forms of art have led me to think about.

I had the opportunity to go to Dutch Harbor and Unalaska recently. One thing I noticed in my research of the history there is how important the arts were. The sacred arts (icons, altars, etc.) are a big part of The Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox church in Unalaska. (Learn more at The Alaska Native arts are still a vital part of the culture in the area. And during World War II, the USO shows, concerts and such were a big part of morale building for the troops on the island. Art grounds us and keeps us going.

And, of course, the arts are still essential for all of us. NPR had an interview with author Cynthia Ozick last weekend (,  and a couple things she said stuck with me:

“On the importance of novels

I have argued this question, novel versus essays, and I do come out on the novel side. Because though both these forms use intellect and imagination, they do it in different proportions — the essay more on the intellect side and the novel more on the imaginative side.”


“On how imagining “the bad guy” relates to empathy

It’s the beginning of empathy, indeed. And it’s also a place where you can make judgments, where you can enter other people’s minds and at the same time subtly, not didactically, not as if you’re giving a sermon or a tract. But you can also make judgments, and they can be social judgments, moral judgments, metaphysical judgments.”

I have always read novels with one eye to the story and characters and one to using fiction to understand people. And I think that’s part of what Ms. Ozick is talking about. Art helps us develop empathy, which we desperately need today.


So please, go out there and read a novel, see artwork, or make some yourself. Because art can sustain us and make the world a better place.

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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