Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Artist and Freedom

Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, expereince treacherous, judgement difficult.
Hippocrates 460-400 B.C.

I was in San Francisco over the weekend. I had the opportunity to interact with some bands, musicians and lots of different artistic people. (You probably knew this but San Francisco has A LOT of different artistic people!)

What I've noticed about us artists (irrespective of geographical location) is we believe ourselves to be inclusive and nonjudgmental. We are free in our approach to try different "things" and we're open to those who do the same. It's not written in any book of rules anywhere I'm just pointing out that a quality that artists generally share is freedom of expression.

And thank God we do. This freedom of expression, this encouragement to look at life differently and express ourselves uniquely regardless of what the conforming pressures say benefits society. Because of us, our society experiences all kinds of life, art, grace, beauty and even truth. (Remember Plato said, "Poetry is nearer to truth than history.")

Hmmm, so artists esteem freedom and non-conformity... why then do so many artists I meet live in a prison of negativity, complaining about other artists, particularly artists who are popular? Why do we associate the popular with "selling out"? Why do we assume that the celebrated artists are no longer relevant?

Maybe they aren't relevant. Or...

Maybe it's just easier to "tear" someone down than to be appreciative of what they have. Maybe we really only want to apply the 'freedom' thought to ourselves, not to others. Maybe we're jealous. (No, not artists!)

Maybe that's what Milton thought of Shakespeare or Solieri said of Mozart or Rod Stewart thinks of Sting.

As artists we are pluralists. That doesn't mean we're all the same. It means we value a variety of different ways of expressing art. We value diverstiy. We value freedom. If you receive approval for your art, great, keep it up. If you're not, stop looking down on others who are. Here's a novel idea for all artist... Be happy for someone else and don't make everything about you.

Only one 6-billionth of all of this is.


shawnmcq said...

"Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief"
- from the song, "The Fly" -U2

Jonathan Foster said...

great quote. thanks.