In the public eye of the United States, we artists are often times marginalized. Our best efforts – bastardized and formalized by big business, gets put into neat little boxes and promptly mass produced to aid in the national pursuit of more, ultimately useless “stuff.” Stuff that clutters our lives thereby making us feel as though we are somehow more or less successful in some ridiculous way than the person standing right beside us. In the film “Fight Club,” actor Brad Pitt delivers a simple yet scathing observation; “The things you own, end up owning you.” Truer words are seldom spoken.
But I am veering off point.
When people ask me what I do and I say; “I’m an artist,” the usual reply I get is; “no, I mean what do you really do?” Because… what? You’ll spend your life living out of a box? Being an artist is not a real vocation; it’s a hobby, at best? If you honestly think that, then you are an ignorant moron.
Consider this: Everything tangible in the world that is not naturally occurring was created by an artist. EVERYTHING.
The clothes you wear.
The vehicle you operate.
The place where you keep your stuff.
All of it exists because an artist of some sort thought it up. When you go out to eat, your meal is prepared – for better or worse, by a culinary ARTIST. If Jules Verne hadn’t penned: “From the Earth to the Moon,” would science have figured out the logistics to do just that a mere hundred years later? Doubtful. And let’s not forget to thank a certain Captain James T. Kirk for introducing us to the cellular flip phone or, Leonardo Da Vinci for inventing the first working model of the airplane. Or the helicopter.
It’s thanks to him and other such artists that modern medicine has precise and detailed and exceptionally thorough schematics of human anatomy. If you’ve ever been operated on and lived to talk about it, well… you’re welcome.
But these are only a few examples that cover mostly “commercial” applications.
Museums are FILLED with art chronicling, with painstaking detail, the entirety of human history. For you Christian types, you should consider the genius of Dante degli Alighieri. If not for his writings, you’d have no concept of Heaven or Hell or any of that. Nor, if not for Michelangelo Buonarroti, would you have the uplifting and inspiring visuals to accompany them.
Art, so profound, that it influenced and changed the perception of an entire RELIGION.
Politically, art is often a key element in helping to shape a nations awareness. Case in point, the Obama hope poster. Televised satire in the form of sketch comedy. Informative documentaries. I could go on but my ultimate point is this; without the arts, civilization as we know it would simply cease.
And it’s not like anyone can just dive in and do it. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, psychologically – Art is HARD. It takes a lifetime of dedication, commitment and a willingness to experience life completely unfiltered. All for your benefit, I might add.
As an artist, you have ‘to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’ and constantly tear yourself apart only start the whole process over again. And again. For some, this level of intensity can often times lead to madness. (insert Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath or Dali, for example, here)
But for those of us who persevere and find that delicate balance between reason and intuition, the arts can also be one of the most rewarding life choices a person can make.
This is why I get so pissed off when people ask me stupid questions like; “An artist?!? What, you couldn’t get a real job?” or when I hear about local governments cutting funding to the arts and especially, art education. Ken Danby, an insightful and beautifully gifted painter once said; “The degree to which the arts are included in our educational curriculum is totally inadequate. The arts are just as important… as any other endeavor in our lives.” This is not a new thought, folks. Long before the near decimation of our current, rather pathetic “educational system,” it was once the belief that you were not fully learned unless you had studied art, as you would science or math or astronomy.
Note: You don’t have to be an artist to study and appreciate art.
Practically, art teaches us critical thinking as well as the ability to problem solve and to 'think outside the box.' This translates to gains in math, reading, cognitive ability and verbal skills. Beyond that, involvement in the arts can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, teamwork and (perhaps) a healthier form of self expression. Consider that after the next family function, when you're found under the table, in a fetal position. Naked.
This why I feel that there should be a day; An “Artist Appreciation Day.” There isn’t one, I checked.
I don’t know about you but my calendar is just lousy with holidays like, Groundhog Day, Flag Day, International Youth Day... No Artist Appreciation Day!
International youth day?!? Seriously?? What the fuck?!?
This needs to be rectified. I say, put it right as autumn gets started; on September 23rd, when nature is exploding with color and there are no other pesky holidays to interfere. The day could begin with a celebratory brunch, because we artists often like to sleep in a bit...
Something nice. And artists also appreciate quality materials to work with so, treat the creative person in your life to a gift card to his or her favorite supply shop/recycling center/hardware store. Go to a reading. Hit up an art opening. Pay the cover charge on open mic night.
Break out the crayons and color for an hour – go nuts, you’ll be glad that you did.
And the next time you see a squirrely kid whip out a sketchbook and start mapping out their next masterpiece, walk right up, stick out your hand and say; “Thank you, artist, for making my life interesting. I appreciate you!”
Then, bow low, as you gracefully back away.