This money thing again

July 9, 2015

Nicholas Wilton’s most recent post gives food for thought, again. I find his sharings always thought provoking, and they definitely give me insights that help with my work. This one though, hit a nerve.

I happen to be wrestling just now with the part of my book in progress that is about art and livelihood. I’ve found a way to sidestep the money is good vs money is evil discussion by asking, ‘which story do I want my energy to contribute to ‘. It isn’t about money anyway, it is about creating meaning. What image of life do I want to strengthen by giving it my time and energy?’

If I jump whole hog into the art as commodity reality, then I am supporting an economy based on money as the bottom line for determining value. By proxy I am acquiescing to exploiting people and resources to get high profits. I am saying yes to non-ethical long-term negative consequences of short term thinking. I’m using my life to perpetrate a system I don’t stand behind in any way at all.

My heart, unlike Nicholas’s was never wholly into selling my art as a life goal. I wanted a more collaborative, connected, kind of art. I wanted to do good, add value to life, and there weren’t channels for that kind of socially engaged work until just recently.

What I get from Nicholas’s post and from his art, is that it isn’t a black and white thing. There are artists like him, who seem to be able to dance with the marketplace without losing the gift aspect of their art- the aspect connected to the muse, to the sacred, to the greater things. The kind of art that carries a connection with life’s mysteries and large questions, the kind of art that can soothe souls and inspire people to either make art themselves or make changes in their lives to let in more play, imagination, connection.

The danger in approaching art as commodity/product is that this aspect is too often lost in the fray to get the work seen and sold. An artist starting out with all her values intact can easily get overtaken by market values.

I guess this is the essence of my problem with saying ‘there is nothing BUT money in art’, it places art squarely in the marketplace. Seeing the world as it is now, in seeing old systems collapsing and creativity needed for renewal in every part of life, I would ask, do we need more art products? Or do we need artists leading authentic lives, creating from their heart and soul to bring these much needed values into the world? I learn from other artists all the time, that it isn’t either/or.

But I want to make a case for the alternative to seeing art, like everything else in this society, as a transaction.






5 Responses to “This money thing again”

  1. Zom Says:

    Thank you for this post. You have expressed your thoughts clearly and beautifully. It calms something in me after reading Nicholas’ post.

    • hi Zom I had a quick look at your site and I like your work, it has a stillness at its center as well.
      So what needed calming after Nick’s post? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

      In the meantime I have a nice quote for you from master cabinetmaker James Krenov: (For a series of posts on his work and philosophy, type Krenov into
      the search box on my blog).

      …most good craftsmen work by themselves doing all their own work. So if you are a loner, you and your work are different from most. Accept that, and be glad. Either you are the competitive, speculating sort, or you’re not. And if you aren’t, then turn this fact into an asset; it can be the greatest asset of all. Realizing it helps you to stop being afraid, and allows you to be proud of living with what you do best.

      Stick to what you believe in; go into the work and listen. Forget about competition. Find a pace and a balance that make sense out of long hours. Try to reach the level where there is no competitor except excellence itself.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I was quite surprised to read the Wilton Blog post, I normally find his posts very inspiring. I was a bit bemused to see the positive comments to his post – so I added one of my own, as I see you did too 🙂

  3. Just saw your comment on Nick’s blog. Couldn’t agree more. Good that some of us are raising our voices. The push to commoditise ourselves and our work is relentless.

    There have to be some brave people to go out there and experiment to create new ways of seeing art’s contribution. Suzi Gablik says that once new alternatives take hold, the institutions to support them will follow. Why do we have to be brave?, because the entire world we live in is based on the paradigm of selling as bottom line for worth. And because the arts stand for values which are marginalised in this society- the numinous, reverent, sacred; emotional, intuitive, soft; reconciliatory, renewing. To mention a few 🙂
    And because to walk out of an existing paradigm is to land in ‘the place between stories’- an uncomfortable space to be in for sure, but one with endless possibilities.

  4. Reblogged this on paisleypedlar and commented:
    A really interesting post and one which articulates much of how I feel about Art.

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