I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – especially while I paint… Our society has an unwritten rule, “Never let your child grow-up to be an artist”. And I have seen the effects of this “rule” in daily life FIRST HAND. I’d say that the general consensus is that if you choose to be an artist in our society you are crazy, rebellious and will probably end up homeless.
I’ve taught art in community classes, in college settings and currently I teach private lessons. My teenage daughter teaches music to little ones weekly and what strikes me most is how proud each parent is of their child’s artistic accomplishments. They swell with pride when they watch their little one at a recital or see their completed artwork and they praise the child profusely. What this tells me is that in our deepest self – we LOVE art!
However, you are not allowed to be an artist when you grow-up.Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the parents here! We only want the best for our children. We want them to be able make a living, we want them to succeed and we want them to be happy. Our hearts are in the right place. What is in the wrong place is the fact that society does not value art – and for some reason we choose to follow along with that…
I could say all the obvious things here; art brings beauty, change, life and joy to the world (all 100% true) but this does not negate the fact that most of the time art doesn’t pay the bills. Why? Well, because like I said above, it is valueless to us.
It’s almost like we came out of the industrial revolution completely encased in the factory worker mentality. Art lost its central professional role in historical society and now sits on the sidelines. It is considered more of a hobby than a real profession.
What do we admire most when we study history? What helps us understand and envision the past? What connects us to who we were? Who are some of the most famous people in history?
Art and artists.
Art is the reflection of who we are now. Our music, our literature, our paintings will be how future generations identify with us. It is how we will be remembered. No one will remember the factories… And yet, we value those roles more? Weird.
Does that mean we give up on factories or better put nowadays, technology? Obviously not! What it does mean though is that art shouldn’t remain a side show. It should play a professional and valuable role in our world. We should honour it. We should be able to encourage our children to become artists. And they should be able to make a living at it.
That’s a lot of “should s”…
A modern day Renaissance would be nice though – I guess I can dream…
If you are interested in this topic you should check out this Ted Talk – it is such a great example of how art affects change and brings goodness –> Theaster Gates: How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art.
(Pssst… pictured here are some of my students – and yes I am SOOOO proud of them – LOVE teaching them!)