As someone who finds so many good feelings and meaning in making art, I often think about the role of art in the world at large. Should art serve a particular purpose? Does it already? Does the role of art in production occur regardless of intention, or do creators have this role in mind during the process? Does art need to reach final production and be seen by others to have an impact? Boom. Deep.
I heard a dance teacher once say "You don't have to make dance about saving the whales."
I mean, I think I understand what she was trying to say: you don't have to have a cause to make art. And I would agree that art does not always have to be fueled by some form of activism. How limiting. The reason working "in the arts" is so magical (and a constant struggle) is that there is no system. Generally there is no strategy to develop a "successful" "career" in the arts. Being an artist started when you found yourself on a path which led you to a snow covered mountain with a deadly vertical incline, a guarantee of ice and lose footholds. You trudge through knee deep snow in your inadequate boots until you develop skills and methods unique to you for navigating the mountain in hopes that the peak eventually stops moving further away.
Breaking rules, conceptions, norms and expectations is what separates art from commercial (WHOA! Big statement, we'll save that one for another time).
But I can't seem to let artists off the hook with anything goes. (And of course, disclaimer #jbrown, this stream of thoughts comes from reflecting on what I am choosing to present with what I make.) I have a desire to be held accountable for making work that is...doing something. I want art to feel and meet the expectation of effecting audiences in ways they didn't expect. I want every show to give you something to take home and keep you up at night. I want every artist to be held accountable for the time, energy and money they spend on creating and answer Sarah Thornton's question What is an artist? I'm not interested in everyone having the same answer, just simply to have an answer. To be able to say, THIS IS WHAT IT IS! To erase the mystery, to be taken seriously, to be valid, to be stronger together, to know ourselves better.
p.s. the whales are totally dying and need help.