The Role of the Artist
What is the role of the artist but to communicate? We can make work, sitting in a room, a studio, a space where no one sees what you pour your heart into. We can write about our work and we can post it on an internet screen that glosses over the subtle details of texture and depth. We can submit to exhibitions where depending on the vision of a curator we are accepted but more often rejected. But, then we get opportunities for what we aspire to do, when we can share our work. When that occurs, it feels good.
Yesterday I had a studio visit for a prospective show. Yes, I was excited. I cleaned and organized my usually disastrous studio. I hung pieces wherever I could find space and I laid out my heart and soul of the last few years, revealing the piles of series that I hope to one day exhibit. It felt invigorating. It reminded me of my own value, my mission, and it helped to summarize the last 27 years of building up to now, a body of work that I am both proud and insecure. I am both articulate and speechless. I stumble on my own thoughts and words not because I don’t know what to say, but because I try to fit it all in, in that one short visit. I cram the images and explanations to validify all that I am. When I share myself, it feels good.
Later that day, I visited a friend who is a different kind of artist. She designs and sells jewelry. I had to exchange a gift and I uncomfortably entered her space, combing through her merchandise. I picked out some earrings and was about to leave when she asked about my art. I told her about the blog and she responded maybe I could write about her. With that she delved into her story, she described her process with a passion, the primitive and the precious. I hadn’t thought about that as I boxed the shimmering earrings, but as I learned that she didn’t design them but rather bought to complete her vision around other pieces. She excitedly pulled out metal bracelets, paired with delicate fringed ones, and those went with these pieces...she was revealing herself as artist. I wanted to support another artist who was so completely different from me, so I put back the earrings and happily left draped in her designed pieces. I was reflecting the primitive and the precious, inspired by her story. When I can support an artist, it feels good.
It is the connection that I have always strived for as an artist. When we touch someone, it doesn’t matter if it is high art, or sidewalk chalk, if it is academic or commercial. The point is to see the work as a common link to connect us as people, using a common language that doesn’t judge but rather colors with different perspectives and values. It is about giving voice to what is sometimes hard to say, it is about feeling deeply, and expressing freely. It is political in its innate ability to reflect opinions and points of view, always placed in the context of who we are and where we come from. When we connect in that way, it feels good.