Art Does Not Back Down
At cocktail parties and such, when I'm asked what I do, I usually say "I'm a working artist." I think being an artist is slightly different than being a working artist. As a working artist, I create art and services that enter an arena of business. I list my art or services for sale and humans who want my art give me money in order to acquire it.
In these current times, I wrestle with impulses to either restrain or express my sincere convictions and feelings. When I force myself to only practice restraint, I feel like a coward. And I wonder to myself: "Is that going to be my legacy? That I lived solely as an art careerist to sell art rather than to express art?"
The majority of the art I make has no political commentary. It's a beautiful flower ... an interesting face. Occasionally, there is art that bubbles up from within ... art that won't back down from commenting on current happenings. Reportage. And when I do, I always receive comments (public and private) that knock the wind out of me like: "That's not art. It's crap." "Shut the fuck up about politics and just paint."
I also receive comments (public and private) that strengthen me like: "Thanks for speaking up. I was raped in college and your art makes me feel not so alone." "Your art gives me strength to express myself."
I look around the world and wonder: What is my artistic responsibility?
For me, part of it is to manage the business portion so that I can keep working and selling and staying visible and afloat. But it's also to occasionally allow sincere, clever, thoughtful expressions that support or denounce things I see without practicing restraint, with faith in knowing that I am not alone. With faith in who I am.
Because if I can't allow my art to occasionally do that, and if the world becomes one that does not allow that, then what is the purpose of existing? Just to make nice nice, to look the other way, and to shut the fuck up and just paint and sell?
I'm really ok if I don't dominate the business aspect of art.
But I've come to realize that I'm really NOT ok if the business aspect of art dominates me.