Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles & Orland
Acceptance - we all want it. The alternative is either rejection or indifference and neither is satisfying. The authors ask us to consider this question regarding acceptance: When your work is counted, will it be counted as art? I'm hoping so. It's neither craft, nor hobby, nor decoration. It's art.
Acceptance and approval are powers held by others, whether they be friends, classmates, curators ... or author of the definitive history of your chosen medium. I suppose this should intimidate me, but it doesn't because there's nothing that I can do about it. My conscience tells me to create art in my own voice and by my own devices. I can't paint to gain acceptance, but I can hope that what I produce may find it.
The authors also remark on something we're all familiar with: the acceptance of an artist's work posthumously. The explanation offered makes sense: at any given moment, the world offers vastly more support to work it already understands - namely, art that's already been around for a generation or a century. Expressions of truly new ideas often fail to qualify as even bad art - they're simply viewed as no art at all.
Therefore, if we're motivated by acceptance then our work will probably be more conventional and identifiable as "art." The authors point out that this isn't necessarily a bad thing - at least for beginning artists who learn by recapitulation. But, once having done that, the far greater danger is not that the artist will fail to learn anything from the past, but will fail to teach anything new in the future. I believe that we artists have an obligation to create work that enhances and moves forward the "dialogue" in art. It's essential to the life of the discipline.
This takes us to a whole other level - one that moves us beyond seeking acceptance to making authentic and original art.
The real question about acceptance is not whether your work will be viewed as art, but whether it will be viewed as your art.
What are your thoughts?