"Art is not only a form of action, it is a form of social action. For art is a type of communication, and when it enters the environment it produces its effects just as any other form of action does.” ~ Mark Rothko
I spend a lot of time asking people what they want to do with their lives and their art.
This may be a byproduct of being a teacher, or the reason why I have a passion for the profession in the first place, but one way or another it is a question that comes up daily and one I am genuinely interested in answering. It is also a question I ask myself frequently. Why do I do what I do (and what is it, exactly, that I am doing)?
The answer continues to change and to shift with every experience, with every meeting, with every image, and yet I know that ultimately I create because I have to. There is no choice for me - it is a physical, mental, and emotional need and I begin to feel crazy when I am not actively engaged in creating work. The medium and process may shift, but the act of creation, and the desire to discuss art, life, and the implication of our actions and choices remains constant.
Art opens doors of connection and communication, allowing a shift in perspective, encouraging people to see in a slightly different way, to be open to previously unacknowledged possibilities. There is an understanding that we all see and create differently and thus we are able to be more open to seeing another’s perspective than in any other form of dialogue or discourse. Art breaks down barriers and becomes an equalizer, an opener. Whether it is loud and boisterous or subtle and unassuming, art changes the world.
There is power in any act of creation, of any action. I ask you to think about not only what you create but also your intentions, and then to think about the consequences. For too long I have heard artists talk about work that is created with no clear intent, work that does not take responsibility for itself. Perhaps there are times when a rose is simply a rose, and surface beauty may be the only goal, but the art that I am drawn to create and to admire has teeth. Meaning. It challenges its creator and asks something from viewers - to engage, to question, to think, to go deeper. Whether I like it, whether I agree with it isn’t as important as the experience of interaction and the possibility of expansion. As artists it is our responsibility to create work with personal meaning, to own our power, and to act thoughtfully and intentionally.
Art is not responsible for change, but it has the ability to open consciousness in such a way that conversation, connection, and compassion can flourish. Understanding this power opens the world of art, and thus the world, to more and more possibilities.
Don’t limit yourself by what you think you can and cannot do. Dare to imagine and dream and honestly ask and answer the question - why do you do what you do? And how can you do more?
Feel free to comment here - I would love to hear about your motivation, your dreams, your intentions.