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The Daily Hart Challenge Year II Review

A close up image of my journal for The Daily Hart Year II. The cover is looking a bit worse for wear.

I can’t believe another year of The Daily Hart has come to an end. I feel like it was just yesterday that I cracked open my brand new notebook for the first time and started taking notes about Classical Persian Poetry. Starting with the perfectly reasonable question of just what exactly is Persia? I also happened to be on the Eurostar heading to London last November 1st when I started this year’s challenge, which I find very fitting considering that I first thought up the idea for this project while on the Eurostar many years ago. It’s the circle of life I suppose.

But here I am. Another year gone, another challenge completed. And what a year it has been. In fact, it is extraordinary to process just how much the world has changed these past 12 months. On November 1st of last year we were on the cusp of more devastating COVID waves, both Delta and Omicron. Borders could still close at any moment. Lockdowns were still a very real possibility. And no one thought that a war in Europe was imminent that would bring us to the brink of nuclear apocalypse and worldwide hunger and starvation. But here we are.

In many ways, the past year has been an extraordinarily difficult one. Both globally and personally. Which is why I’m grateful every day that I have The Daily Hart. Art is not just for entertainment. It is soothing. Therapeutic even. And it can be a wonderful escape, even if just for a couple of minutes, from the never-ending headlines that feel more ominous with each passing day. And sometimes, art is just plain fun.

This past year I challenged myself to choose a topic every month and learn as much as I could about it. I wanted to do all the deep dives I wished I had time for during my first challenge when I was experiencing a new work of art every day. And even though I knew that The Daily Hart would yield depths of information I never knew I wanted to know, I was still surprised at how much I learned. I discovered Persian poets and learned about mysticism. I read wuxia and magical realism books, and I learned about people and cultures that spanned the centuries and the continents. For Pride month, I dove into the history of queer cinema. And I learned an incredible amount of history through my deep dives into political cartooning and protest music.

But the most poignant month for me will always be my journey into rediscovering my heritage through Ukrainian art. I’ve always loved to say that I am part Ukrainian, but this year that declaration was particularly precious. And while I cannot stop bombs and the whims of a mad man by reading Ukrainian poetry, I can play a small part in ensuring that this beautiful culture and heritage never dies out, no matter how hard certain people may try. It’s been six months since that deep dive ended, and I’m still reading Ukrainian stories, watching Ukrainian movies, and learning the Ukrainian language. I wish it hadn’t taken a war for me to be inspired to reconnect with my roots. But I will absolutely take the silver linings where I can.

So once again, it has been an incredible year. But it has also been a very challenging one. World events aside, this year’s challenge itself was very difficult. In a move that is very much on brand for me, I tried to make this year’s challenge easier and ended up making it harder instead. My thought process was that it would be easier to write one post a week instead of one post a day. But silly me, I forgot just how much I love a good deep dive into a topic that interests me. When I managed to crank out a 1,600 word essay on week 2, I knew I was in trouble. I tried to reign it in as much as I could, but this past year has basically been the equivalent of writing an essay every week, on top of all of the research I was doing on a daily basis. Easier, it was not.

I’ve also come to see that as much as I’m happy that I saw this year’s challenge through, a weekly essay on what I’ve learned about one topic or another is not what The Daily Hart was supposed to be about. I started this project to experience new art, every day, and I found that I dearly missed that routine this past year.

Therefore, I’m thrilled to announce that The Daily Hart will be continuing. That’s right. I’m committing to another year of The Daily Hart challenge, and Year III will be a return to what I loved so much in Year I. One new artist, every day for a year. No repetitions. No straight, white, men. In fact, my goal for this coming year is to feature artists from over 100 different countries. Tune in next October 31st to find out if I make that goal.

So that’s a wrap on The Daily Hart Year II. It has been an amazing and difficult year, but I’m so grateful every day that I have this project in my life. It continues to bring me more joy than words can express, and I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings.

See you tomorrow for the first artist of The Daily Hart Year III!

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!