Sunday, November 13, 2011

Art Blog: HONORABLE Artist

How did I get to this place? As I told you many blog posts ago, I knew I was going to be an artist as soon as I learned to speak. Maybe before, I just couldn’t express it verbally. Since this is true, I have been an artist a LONG time. I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately. I have been looking back on all I have done as an artist and wondering what the hell will come next.

One thing that enters into this introspective mix is how our world has changed over my many years. The way I was taught and the way I feel about life is so different now than then. One thing that is bothering me greatly is the state of ART right now. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places or I am not thinking clearly, but my definition of being an artist seems to be under fire or at least swept under a rug.

I have always thought being an artist is a high honor. It is an intellectual pursuit. It was a way for me to express my interpretations of the world and share them with others. Being an artist is about creating reflections of our society, the good and bad. Being an artist is being about thinking and telling the truth. Selling art has always been the dribble of icing on the cake. However, I have never been the type of artist who wanted to mass produce trinkets or trite illustrations just to make a living. I have always known that was not my priority. The kind of art I make doesn’t fit that mold. That is just fine with me. This is why I am a teaching artist and there was always an art community surrounding me who understood my philosophies because they were of the same ilk. They, just like the small audience who appreciates my art are on the same wavelength. These are my people.

Now, I see an insurgence of young and new artists who have their own philosophies about being an artist. They seem to be consumed by ideals of marketing and product. This is fine too. However at times, I feel alienated and isolated. What happened to the high ideals of art making that I have lived with for decades. Have I been wrong, stupid, and foolish?

This week while wallowing in my own self analysis, I turned on PBS and watched “American Masters”. The featured artist was dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones. The program documented Mr. Jones’ work on his production about “Lincoln” as described in the NY Daily News article: 'Bill T. Jones: A Good Man'

As I watched the film, I had to sit up straight. My eyes opened wide and I recognized him. Just watching him work and hearing him talk made me realize the honor of being an artist. He is an “artist’s artist”. His work may be unusual and his audience may be smaller than a dancer on a pop culture TV show, but he is an artist with a steady focus and integrity. He is a thinker. He tells truths. He is consumed with the creation of his art work. Despite obstacles, the temptations of mass production, and the lack of “Twitter” approved praise of popular culture, his visions stay strong and his work proceeds. He is an honorable artist. I am on his wavelength. HE is one of my people.

As the documentary ended, I didn’t feel alone anymore.

I love watching Bill T. Jones. This is one of my favorite video clips. I could watch it a million times and never get tired of it. He is a true master artist.

(Click pic to see Bill T. Jones in action)


gilda said...

Thanks for sharing this clip and your commentary, Sheree......

Sheree Rensel said...

I don't know if you have seen the "American Masters" piece. If not, try to. It is wonderful.
Listening to Bill T. Jones as he CREATES is so interesting and breathtaking. I even love his moods and angst. I laughed because I tend to be impatient with people at times and I often want to pound walls too.
His work is unbelievable, yet so humanly familiar.