Art and artists: integrated and valued

March 28, 2009

This post is a continuation of, “Shaun McNiff and ‘Trusting the Process”.

Shaun says,’Creation is a circulation of energy’. 

So selling our work is just a miniscule fraction of doing that.  He continues’:

It [creation] is always putting things into new relationships within a continuously interactive process. We [could] promote creativity in work environments by introducing varied sources of energy and letting them find their way to solving a problem.

He imagines a workplace infused with the arts:

For years I’ve imagined what a large company would be like if it provided studios for art, dance, voice, music, and creative writing on the premesis. Why not give workers a chance to exercise the creative spirit in the place where many of their tensions and conflicts are located? Imagine the implications of transforming stress at the job instead of taking it home or discharging it somewhere else….. Creative expression will infuse the workplace with imagination, new perceptions, and different ways of interacting.

In my own vision for what art could be when moved out tf the periphery into the center of life, the first change would be for everyone to embrace their creative side and use it for personal expression in all areas of life. This is already happening, there is a democratisation of art underway.

Obviously there is a difference between this kind of practice and the life of someone who has committed deeply to art as their life’s calling. But we need to challenge the prevailing opinion that those anointed few are the only ones with the  ‘licence to create’.

We need to expand our ideas of what constitutes a creative act. McNiff goes into this issue in detail, but I am giong to move on with my own thread now.

So, next to ordinary citizens reclaiming their right to create (through the help of artists) , I see professional artists being supported and integrated into mainstream society in entirely new ways. I see a paradigm where artists are as valued in their communities as computer repair people are today. They would still create some of their work in the needed solitude of their studios, but there would be much more outward movement, and it would be easy and supported by the society.  The artist would be invited as a treasured professional resource to share the workings of the creative process in businesses, community centers, schools, hospitals etc. They would be paid well and provided with social support like any employee, such as medical and unemployment insurance.

I see artists helping non-artists to discover their own latent creativity so that this can be engaged for the individual’s own healing, balance and creation of a meaningful and connected life.  Workplaces, buildings, neighborhoods, city environments would be enriched by people coming  together to create , beautify, and reconcile. I want to add, and ‘pray’ but I mean this in a universal way, where people acknowledge that there is a deeper mystery to life than what we see and they form a relationship to it to honor its movement in their lives.

 All this is already happening in small grass roots movements. New gestures such as Look up, or High five, or free hugs (look these up on YouTube). We just need to be conscious of it  and contribute to it in our own small way.



3 Responses to “Art and artists: integrated and valued”

  1. I hope that sarah j can comment but in my experience most people do not want to find their creativity. Are extremely happy to do things in the old time honoured complicated and frankly STUPID ways. As you can tell all I’ve learned from being in a corporate environment is LEAVE NOW!

    I’m not so convinced about artists leading everyone else to their creativity because just because you can do something doesnt make you necessarily a good teacher. I’ve been in art departments and witnessed the frustrated tenor of lecturers who really should be doing their own work instead of teaching.

    A lot of English Arts Council grants are given on the basis that part of it will be for arts in the communtiy what sarah j calls ‘facepainting workshops’. Which is great if you happen to be an artist who likes facepainting workshops and kids. I personally loathe both. I’d rather work at something entirely separate and fund my creative work that way or sell it. I’m currently toying with joining M15…

    When it comes down to it in my belief system you either will do it for love or money. If you get paid for it great but if you arent prepared to do it without then why are you doing it? This is excactly the situation I was with with filmmaking because if I geunuinely loved it I would have been making films without grants. The fact that my only ‘reward’ for taking photographs is the innate pleasure and a DVD copy of ‘Australia’ the movie is highly indicative.

  2. szoutewelle Says:

    mary, thanks for taking the time to reply in depth. Your thoughts on this are really welcome.

    I’d agree that not all artists are teachers. But I mean it in a broader sense. that the qualities artists work with every day in the creative process: tolerance for uncertainty, risk taking, bringing together unrelated elements to create new things, starting out from potentials rather than limitations, etc, if integrated better, would contribute to a more flexible, workable society.

    As to people not wanting to be mroe creative, I am afraid you are right about a certain portion of the population. But others are ready and searching- those are the ones open and needing direction.

    And my argument only SEEMS to be about art and money, it is more about the underlying assumptions about what art is for.

    I absolutely think that one can do it for love and be lucky enough to earn money as well. But show me how many people this is true for. I think perhaps a fraction of a percent of all the professional artists in the world.

  3. I do think that artists who do make their living from it do become affected by commerical considerations after a while who cannot when faced with mortgage and bills? But I can always sense the creative stagnation at the heart of their work which emmenates from it. I’m thinking of painters here just becaue of my mother being an artist I’ve followed some artists for decades or more. Good artists sense this and build in enough R&D time to make sure this doesn’t happen but its not always common. SarahJ was describing a particularly hideous work she saw yesterday at the Tate Modern by an artist who makes rather badly painted placards as ‘his’ artwork and seems to just churn them out to get exhibitions and fees. A particularly miserable example of touting crap as art.

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