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?