In the midst of COVID, during a year in which artists and art educators were beset by an unsympathetic, even hostile, federal government this paper takes a deep history perspective to seek affirmation of our role in society. It charts an evolutionary approach to the question of what art does and suggests it as a means to work through the current anxieties that beset our species. A utopian vision of sorts, it is an approach that emphasises the significance of forms and traditions that exist beyond the academy: both pre-modern and contemporary. Drawing upon work from the intersection of sociology and philosophy, such as that of Ellen Dissayanake and Katja Mandoki, the paper emphasises the folk dimension of creative practice to reconsider our approach to aesthetic values and judgments. As a position it stresses a renewed modesty and localism in arts practice that plays against the global and spectacular trajectories that have characterised so much that has been celebrated in the age of the biennale. As such it seeks the empowerment of everyday artists to process challenges to our world and affirm our place within it.