The Laws of Nature

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Have You Hugged an Artist Today?

The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)

Chapter 3: Art & Society, Part 3

Orland finishes this chapter with the notion that we’re becoming a society that is almost entirely composed of audience. Too many viewers and too few participants have left artists lacking community support. He asks, “how many artists have the resilience to see their still-developing work placed in direct competition with the legends of their field? And, we can’t afford to leave artmaking to a chosen few – the few are not enough. Thinking globally, Orland speculates that another superstar wouldn’t do as much to make the world a better place as would thousands of people making art on a daily basis. Indeed, the world would be a better place if more people made art.

I agree with the last statement, but am uncertain about the rest of his reasoning. It seems to me that there are more people in the world making art today than ever before in the history of mankind. It also seems to me that there’s more public funding available for the arts than ever before, and more people buying art. There was a time, not more than a century ago, when only the wealthy elite purchased original art and the rest either did without or bought cheap prints. Times have changed – and almost anyone can own an original work of art and almost anyone can declare him/herself an "artist."

But, maybe Orland is writing about a different kind of community support: respect. The type of
respect that holds artists in esteem within the community and finds value in what we do. The type of respect that doesn't chop art programs first when educational funding shrinks. The kind of respect that helps artists function full-time in their careers. The kind of respect that views art as a solution to the problem rather than a silly pasttime.

We artists need both emotional and tangible support from our community. That lacking, we especially need it from each other. I’ve been in too many situations where artists compete against one another in a destructive way either indirectly or directly. Elevating one's art and professional standing doesn't necessate demeaning someone else's. For what it's worth - I hold you all in high esteem and am grateful for your support!

What are your thoughts?


Robin said...

I completely agree with your comments on 'respect' from our communities and from each other.
Very well summarized.
I also appreciate that you are breaking the chapters up. This makes it much more digestible.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy, SO many good points. I'd like to touch on competition between artists. I think it's important to find and encourage what's good in any piece of art, from beginner to most experienced. I would rather not compete, just find the value in each piece.

I get that we compete for spots in shows and awards; but I like to remember competition is not about the art. The work and the personal investment are what's important.

L.W.Roth, said...

My son got his doctorate in philosophy. The graduation ceremony was held at 4 in the afternoon in the gym with no air conditioning and only bleachers to seat the proud parents. The MBA graduates had the main auditorium with cushy chairs and air conditioning at 9 AM. Who was more important to the university? The potential money makers who were potential donors to the support of the university. Artists are not big money makers. Artists mostly live hand to mouth. Unless they get an MBA instead of a BFA and run the art business as a business with a set of books, promotions, mailing lists, and enough capital to support the operation till a profit is being made--at least five years I once read. Artists, unfortunately, are still coupled by many with hobbyists--especially if they're part time because they hold down a paying job to support their habit. And doesn't that just tick you off?

Devastatingly Duc said...

I am new to your blog and have to thank you tremendously for your mindful and thought provoking posts. I am currently a fashion student who went through many art and art history classes and I have to say that while in the hustle and bustle of fashion design, holding onto the 'artist's mind' helps give me the creative freedom to think outside the box and have more meaningful designs. Please keep up your great work in contribution to the art world and I have bookmarked your page for continuing information. =].

hwfarber said...

Could Ormond possibly mean that each person should find the art in whatever he does? The craftsmanship that says I did it, I put my soul into it, and it's my art?

To me, art is so much more than painting and sculpting. It is in every part of your life--if you recognize it as art, you respect it.

Casey Klahn said...

I value you, Kathy, and this community.

Sometimes I think about Italy (I'm sure in an idealized manner) where respect for artists is marked. In a silly vein, Hollywood and perhaps Nashville are two places in the US where they love their artists.

Is there something to learn from these examples? Maybe so. But, even though I don't have answers, I am convinced that your question is very important - artist's have a form of respect, and yet the tangibility of that is vapor.

I don't want to project the "we're entitled," meme, nor the other bad one: "we're so misunderstood."

Kathy said...

Hi Robin - Thanks! It's much easier for me if I break these chapters up into sections, as you noted.

Hi Peggy - Amen! Thanks.

Hi L.W. - yes it does! And so does the fact that entertainers make tens/hundreds of millions of dollars while doctors, educators, and others make so little by comparison!

Hi Dev Duc - Welcome! Thank you for joining our discussion and I wish you great success in the fashion industry. Please join us whenever you like ... I look forward to your input.

Hi Hallie - good point! I like the way you state it. Thank you!

Hi Casey - yes, that seems to be the situation. It's a little strange because there's no standardized national test that one takes to become a "licensed artist" as, for instance, one might take to become a "licensed plumber" or a "licensed electriction" - positions that command a certain amount of respect and a heft guaranteed fee. We are artists because we say so and the public doesn't generally trust that unless a museum curator or art critic agrees. Thanks!

Dan Kent said...

Re competing in a destructive way: I have never been so impressed as by the community of artists I have found online, and their support and encouragement of one another. I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness to give and to teach and to share techniques instead of protecting them as their "work product". We are, however, a part of humanity. There will always be those who revel in cutthroat competition, and those who will not "play fair". This is not exclusive to art, as you know. It is a cliche' in the corporate environment. The ideal would be nice, but reality intrudes. Still, I'd rather be an artist than a corporate animal any day.

-Don said...

I'm late for my hug...

There, I feel much better now.



PS, can you tell how late it is? I can't think enough to write anything sage. Good night.

Kathy said...

Hi Dan - I agree! The blogging artist community is wonderfully supportive and informative. Thanks!

Hi Don - Hugs are sage enough!! Get some rest :-)

Joyfulartist said...

I just feel so blessed to be able to make art, as humble as it is, and to share it with the world through blogging. You are all so supportive as are my artist friends who are close at hand. If we don't esteem each other who will? Hugs to all!

Kathy said...

Hi Joyful - (((hugs back)))