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.