what kind of art should we artists make?
May 29, 2019
Perhaps that seems like an odd question. Why would I ask you that?
It is true of most artists these days, that we go into our studios and create what we want, perhaps intuitively picking up the needs of the culture, but mostly deciding what pleases us. It didn’t used to be this way. As Alain de Botton and John Armstrong point out in their book, Art as Therapy, for much of history, governments and religion decided what kind of art should be made and provided the resources for artists to make them. These time periods valued art as a “fundamental shaper of personality and public life”
In this light, art had a purpose beyond being an aesthetically pleasing addition to our homes or workplaces. What was essentially propaganda to espouse values dictated by the church and governments; even if they are values we can support, is an anathema to our current capitalist, secular culture. The authors premise is that we as a culture should not have to struggle to understand modern art, but that “the agenda for art in a liberal society would be to assist the individual soul in its search for consolation, self understanding and fulfillment “ they propose commissioning art that grapples with the very issues we all deal with to become a guide or reflection in “the direct task of helping us achieve self knowledge, remember forgiveness and love - and to remain sensitive to the pains suffered by our ever troubled species and our urgently imperiled planet.” Whew! This is an intriguing idea because it brings artists into the fold of the community — and art as having a central role in depicting and clarifying our values. We would be challenged by art in a meaningful way. As part of my creating, I ask myself, what do we people need right now in the way of comfort, inspiration, healing? I haven’t asked YOU directly, my dear collectors and supporters. So here it is, what kind of art do you need right now?