Last Sunday’s NY Times had wonderful piece entitled, “Does Having a Day Job Mean Making Better Art?” (link). I shared it with a departmental colleague also keen on art and photography, and after his reading he urged me to look through the article’s comments (which I’ll urge on you as well – I found the one written by Oriole particularly heartbreaking). The title does flourish a conceit which little of the article successfully defends. Rather – in my opinion – the article is a refreshing reality-check on the fetish our current culture has for art and the artistic (e.g., the way it confuses “art” with the “art market”).
Disclaimer: Heaven forfend I put the word “artist” on my calling card. Others who take the very real risk / challenge of becoming a vocational artist deserve the title. I’ll rest content with such a six-letter word being thrown my way as a result of what I create or what I make.
Seven days a week, ten-hour days – that’s been my last few months at the day job as a computer-science professor. (Yesterday was a glorious exception, an afternoon spent immersed in letterpress adventuring together with a few friends.) And that NYT article’s comment section has more than one entry with the flavour of, “How can you expect anyone create great art under such conditions?” Therein lies the risk of self-pity. Despite the craziness since January 1st (including reneging on my commitment to Kim, Paul and Francis for first-of-the-month postings to this blog) there have been slices of time to create. And, strangely, the results have elicited excitement and curiosity from those whose responses I respect. What is that about?
A very wise man once told me, “No survival, no thrival.” We confound ourselves if we assume the Cosmos / Universe / Society is perpetually aligned with our creativity. Heck, even we ourselves are sometimes not aligned with our own creativity. And yet we create (*cough* “E pur si muove“).
What is that about?