Friday, March 09, 2012

You, The Artist

It’s been a couple of years since I began my monthly guest spot here at the Working Stiffs. In preparation for this, my last post, I looked back at subjects I’ve touched upon in prior posts. Some were writing related; some were inspired by news events; some poked gentle fun at my family.

Several were on the serious side, and I appreciate having a forum to write about difficult topics like wife killers, cop killers, tree killers, and pedophiles. I don’t usually go to such dark places, but here I had the freedom to push the envelope and test both the audience and my own writing mettle. I thank you for that.

In that vein, I want to write about another sensitive topic: Writers as Artists.

In February, as those of you who’ve read my excited babblings know, I was awarded a residency at an artists’ colony. The Fellows--which is what you become forever and ever once you are selected for a Fellowship—included visual artists, composers, and writers. I experienced many warm and generous moments in my time there. One of my favorites was witnessing a Fellow greet a new arrival and ask this question:

“What kind of art do you make?”

It was a good question because it encompassed all possible answers: I paint, I write stories, I compose music, I make prints, I write poetry, I sculpt. The person who answered the question that particular time said, "I write."

Some people don’t think of writers as artists. Some writers are among those who don't think writers are artists. If you think this, you are wrong. To make art is to create something out of nothing, or to mold something into something else. The creation expresses an emotion, captures a moment, explores an idea, or shares a story. That is art.

“Artist” is a scary word to some people, and I don’t just mean legislators who think supporting the arts is a big waste of taxpayer dollars. (Those people are wrong, too.)  It saddens me when a writer tries to deny or shrug off the title, as if being an artist is too flighty or high-falutin’ or ambitious for someone who writes stories to entertain or to earn a living.

Artists make us think. Artists make us feel. Artists make us wonder. Writers do all of this too, right? 
As the regulars here know, writing can a lonely business. It helps to have an online or in person community to support your creative spirit.  I have been fortunate in having opportunities to work with young artists and to encourage them to understand that self-expression is important and necessary in our world. 

So with this, my last post here, I encourage each person reading to think about the next generation. If it is within your power to influence the artists in our future, whether by visiting a school, reading at a library, helping a young writers club, volunteering at a prison, or any other donation of your time and experience,  I hope you will do so. You will be rewarded tenfold.

If you are shy and not sure how to approach a young artist, try this question: “What kind of art would you like to make?”

Art will never go away. You can cut the funding but you can’t stop the creation. As long as people have minds and hearts, they will seek expression.         

It has been a great pleasure to post here. I wish you all the best of all things.



Annette said...

Ramona, I admit I'm not comfortable thinking of my writing as art. Heck, most of the time I struggle to believe my writing is anything but crap! But you're right, of course.

We get so focused on the business of writing and publishing sometimes that we forget about the value of the creative side of it.

And let me say how honored we Stiffs have been to have you on board with us, Ramona. It makes it easier to say goodbye to Working Stiffs when I know I'll still be in close touch with you, both face-to-face (on occasion) and online.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Ramona. I love that idea of paying it forward. I'm going to remember that.

Ramona said...

Annette, look at it this way: The tax people say you work in the Arts & Entertainment industry. If the IRS deems you an artist, it must be so.

It's been my honor, and damn Skippy we will stay in touch!

Edith, pay it forward it is the way. I've done a little, and I always get more than I give. I'll see you around, too, I know.

Gina said...

Ramona -
I will miss reading your wide-ranging posts on the Stiffs. I missed out on spending time with you at the spring flood writers retreat - I had to leave early to care for a radioactive cat - but I've felt as if I've gotten to know you here. Best wishes.

Ramona said...

Gina, there will never be another weekend like Confluence, but we'll always have Pennwriters. Best wishes to you, too.

Joyce Tremel said...

Ramona, I've known you online for awhile, but it was really nice to get to see you face to face at Pennwriters. Keep in touch!

Joyce Tremel said...

Oh, and get thee to Twitter.

Jenna said...

Art? I dunno. Like Annette, I'm not comfortable thinking of what I do as art. It's nice of you to say so, but...

It's been great getting to know you, and I've enjoyed your posts. And gosh, now that we're all so good about posting and commenting, I'm kinda sad to see us quit...

Ramona said...

Joyce, I don't do Twitter. I must be the last holdout. So I guess we'll just have to meet at conferences.

Jenna, it IS sad, isn't it? I guess we'll have to try to keep up on Facebook.

Maybe there should be a reunion blog. Everyone meet back here in a year and post what we've been up to.

C.L. Phillips said...


What a beautiful post. You've given me something to contemplate.

T. M. Crone said...

Nice post. Writers are indeed artists. I've written a blog recently dealing with the same. You might be interested. Take a peak if you get a chance

Kaye George said...

Since I'm also a musician/composer and have been known to paint, it's not hard for me to view writing as art. Many aspects of creating carry over from one discipline/oeuvre to another.

This is a great post to go out on!

Ramona said...

Cindy and Tina, thank you for the nice word.

Kaye, your creativity in these many areas is so impressive. All I can do is write and cook. So far, that gets me through life.

Patg said...

Good food for thought oh, writer/cook.
I tweet, but I don't really get it.

Ramona said...

Pat, I can dig the writer/cook title.

Do people fall into Facebook or Twitter, and you can't effectively do both?