So many of the most powerful cultural forms are the product of turmoil, heartbreak, or pain. In one of our three cover stories, artist Kehinde Wiley teaches us not to fear anxiety: “Roll it around in your hand, and try it on for size… that’s your guiding light.” Finding the courage to discover this light allows us to guide others. Brian Anderson, the professional skateboarder who came out publicly last year, has reinvented himself by getting intimate with that fear. John Early reminds us how when things get really bad, like current-political-climate-bad, sometimes the best thing to do is laugh.
We know all too well that artists are held by this cultural standard because we are counted on, if not required, to be emotional, to be vulnerable, to be empathetic. As Jenna Wortham, co-host of The New York Times podcast Still Processing says in this issue, the work of a culture-convenor is to pursue answers and take emotional leaps to pave a way forward for all. And finally, Huang Jiaqi, boyfriend of the late photographer Ren Hang, opens up in his first interview about their relationship, Ren’s turmoil, and the legacy of his work.