Responsibility of an Artist in Society and Politics

It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact role of the arts in societal and political critique. Especially since postmodernism has overshadowed everything with a twinge of mocking nihilism. Hyperbole has taken over in the past few years and it becomes difficult to articulate any criticisms on society with subtlety and moderation. But screaming or quiet whisperings, the role remains I believe. It isn’t a martyrdom or an esteem…it simply is.

A heavier social critique from 2015. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this boy, so like my son, today as I read my country’s new stance on refugees.

As communicators and citizens, artists by necessity become a reflection of their times and their surroundings. Our work can’t be adequately critiqued without the context of our personal and societal history and current experiences; and our society and history cannot be adequately understood without an attempt to view the artwork that arises from it.
There should certainly be a degree of integrity attached to our works, though we often infuse the genuine even when we seek to remain light-hearted and a distraction from the drudgery.
As a visual artist, the line is more stark or more subtle, depending on mode of communication and subject, style and medium. But the arts include dance and music, film and literature; cultural expression. The arts are essential to a full life and a full understanding of identity and humanity.

Fuck Yer Fences We Got Tunnels. We will find a way to trudge on.

It is with great hope and great humility that I can continue to provide some sort of context of my experience and my understanding as the political climate changes so drastically in America. And it is also with a heavy heart, because so many politicians and so many citizens place such an insubstantial value on the arts in their lives and lives and growth of others.
But throughout history, art has never disappeared. Especially during times when others tried to stifle expression. The human mind fights to remain what it always has been. It fights to remain.

Support the art that connects to you when you see it. Support the struggling painter and the inner city youth dance company. Support your local independent film festivals and support your friends who play gigs. Support National artists and art programs and non-profits. Donate art supplies or instruments or times to local schools and local students who lack adequate access. Create an account on Patreon and find an artist or creator (or 12) who speaks *to you* and help fund their work.

Be Excellent To Each Other.

The Sketchbook Project

It was truly exciting to work on The Sketchbook Project in the 2015-2016 year. I approached the book as something of an intersection of my life at home, which is relatively contained and safe, and the lives of others and atrocities being played out Nationally and Internationally through the media.

It really helped me as an artist, to relate circumstance and society to my work, and ultimately to my identity in a much stronger sense.  It is one thing to be taught values and to know what you believe.  It is another thing entirely to confront yourself with those values and feel them.  It was sometimes uncomfortable, very uncomfortable actually.  Other times it was cathartic, connecting and really reinforced that my value system was indeed internalized and something of which I could be grateful to have been taught.

 

To view the entire Sketchbook, visit The Sketchbook Project‘s Library.  Take a look around at the other books while you’re there, too.