A Quick Word of Encouragement for Your Ongoing Project
- Opinion #1: No single idea defines an artist of any significance.
- Opinion #2: Any vein worth mining as an artist will most likely take time.
- Opinion #3: All interests and tastes come back around again.
- Opinion #4: The surest way to miss your place at a crowded table is to keep circling it looking for the best place to sit down.
Shortly after 9/11 an artist stopped in our new gallery and asked me to review her proposal for an exhibition about the terrorists attacks. By "shortly" I mean within a month of the event. I handed back the proposal and said I wasn't qualified to review her proposal, as I didn't know how I felt about the attacks yet...it was too soon for me to be objective....to have enough distance to assess the value of her response. What I hoped she'd take away from that statement was the implication that, in my opinion, it was too soon for her to have enough distance to assess the value of her response (and hence make art of any value to anyone else) as well. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she had been preparing to respond to such an event or was simply gifted enough to do so meaningfully. Somehow I seriously doubted it then, though.
Given that the impact of the recession on our lives is a work in progress, so to speak, and given that most artists' explorations take time to mature before they result in work worth sharing with the world, I'm not at all sure there's any value in switching gears for any artist. Yes, if your work was a tongue-in-cheek response to the gluttony and excess of humanity, for a simplified example, you might find a less responsive audience now that so many people are struggling, but if history teaches us anything, it's that gluttony and excess will come roaring back before too long. Making a note of the fact that such trends ebb and flow can only serve to make your work richer, in my opinion, so to give up on that exploration now (just because it seems temporarily less urgent) is to miss a golden opportunity.
Undoubtedly events in the world can make certain bodies of work seem awkward or inappropriate regardless of how well made or universally true the work seems. That's the way the ball bounces. The thing to remember about that, though, is that such events will pass and good work will eventually get its due. Chasing after current events in one's work is a foolish way to approach "relevance"...the world is moving far too quickly.