For What Then Do We Toil?
Photograph of a new sculptural installation in process. In my studio, 2016. Photo by Jesse Van Horne of Skullflower Design Studios.
I often consider the activity of art making and am often interested/perplexed/confused/frustrated by the nature of art and art making in a capitalist society such as the United States. We as artists are told that what we do is valuable, but this is little more than lip-service, for our capitalist society has made little provision to really value what we do as artists and really support it.
Don't get me wrong. I am not bitching or moaning about the way things are. I accept them. It is the way things are. But, I do at times consider the ramifications of the kind of system we have developed in the United States, and I do consider how it might work better, for more people.
Often times, as artists, in our art making, there is no direct connection to $, if we are extremely lucky we may eventually find a way to make some $ from time to time for our art, but the reality is that it is a pursuit that does not typically lead directly to $. That causes some issues with many of us, especially those of us who like to eat, and may have other people to provide for.
What is the solution? Wear many hats. Know that your art is important just because. You being another artist's voice in the chorus matters. Everything you do matters, in fact, potentially much more than making a little $.
Though our society does not effectively communicate the value of your pursuits, and does not effectively thank you enough, know that you are appreciated, and know that you are needed. Find ways to make cheddar. Make enough that you can keep on making art. And even make art when you are not making enough cheddar to allow you to keep making art.
Eventually society will morph into an entity that makes greater provision for those of us crazy enough to want to be artists and produce art. Until then, we must be strong, we must be bold, we must be focused, we must be agile. It is not easy. But don't let that be an excuse. You know who you are, and you know what you have to offer. Be who you are. Give what you have.