Remember: the personal is political

I’ve been down in the studio, chasing ideas, playing with materials, getting stuck; trying to keep on making while keeping the ‘admin’ side ticking over. Plenty of time gets spent on writing proposals, making plans, looking for opportunities. I can’t seem to make a connection between the art thinking and making, and the money side. What are the options? Make commercial work that sells, work a ‘bread’ job and make art on days off, find a patron? Around me other artists struggle with the same questions. We try out different options and many of us either lose touch with our practice or put it off for decades while economic needs come first.

We’re all making the mistake of approaching the question as if it is a personal issue for each individual to resolve. I believe that artists cannot constrict themselves to the formula of being a branded micro-business producing disposable commodities to decorate the lives of the affluent. Our necessary role is to be thinkers, observers, provocateurs, cranks, canaries in the coal mine: those are our services to society and how society values our services is a political issue. Ours is not a personal failure when we can’t support ourselves financially. Our society is failing to support artists and that failure is political. We all, artists or not, are impoverished as a result.

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One comment

  1. Ruth, so beautifully stated. I agree…how can, and why should we as artists and creators take full responsibility for a culture which does not seem to place value on the arts? Perhaps, too, this starts in the home….where a nurturing for creativity is nothing shameful or frowned upon as a `timewaster`. Those children after all, become our future….

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