For artists there is always another challenge.
I started writing about artists' issues in May of 2008 and I really haven't seen a lot of progress during these past two years. Hamza Walker just won a major honor and cash prize of $100,000.00 that he can use as he pleases. As a curator at the Renaissance Society in Chicago he has addressed issues significant to a range of artists, including artists of color. Kerry James Marshall is part of a major exhibition at Chicago's MCA on the artists studio a citywide project that I wrote for about Richard Hunt's studio.
On the one hand this news is good news. We have a toe in, but the possibilities available have barely been tapped.
At least, in my opinion.
Clearly I think challenges are what art is all about! Dealing with personal and global issues, finding a way to make art, all of that!
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the challenges women artists face and why there are not more famous women artists who are household names, like Picasso or Van Gogh... I lie; I have thought about this for quite a while. Women artists of African descent have an even harder road to hoe!
And you may know that I wonder, and have not yet found the answer to, why EVERYBODY who is creative is called an artist, from chefs to bricklayers to politicians! Not to say these people aren't creative. George Washington was certainly creative, but not an artist. Call them creative, call them artistic, but for language's sake, let's not call them artists!
George Washington portrait saved from the fire of 1812
An artist is someone different than what these other folks do and we visual artists deserve to own this. If the title "politician" had a better, more agreeable, more generally positive connotation maybe everybody would say, "I'm a politician" as so many describe themselves as an "artist"!
OK< I have ranted about one thing, so let's get to the other! Not just making the art, but promoting the art.Like I said, if it's not one thing, then it's another!
If you are famous, you may be stuck doing one kind of work, if you are struggling you may decide to do too many kinds of art trying to find your voice, your audience, your money for rent. So in the early days you are finding your voice, right? You learn about a variety of mediums and about supports and the basics of art and design, how to balance a picture, the Golden Mean, the value scale and all about color harmony.
Then you get to the expressive part and imitate others. As time passes you, hopefully, notice your preferences and start developing your own style. And you can't wait to be an artist! For some, they consider themselves artists from the giddyup as they used to say when I grew up in Philadelphia (it's a horsey term, meaning from the very start).
Artistic egos are amazing and intriguing, like people, in general. Some are quiet, introverted and shy and some are loud, forceful and believe in themselves, insisting that everyone else does, too. Lots of artists exist somewhere in between!
It took quite a while for me to believe I had the skills to consider myself an artist, even when others cheered me on. I still constantly question what I do. I always want to make it better; that only seems natural, though, right?. Some people think, or at least say that their work is great; when I look at it I can can only shrug! It's also shocking hearing folks do that.
Does the public, including art critics, curators and collectors believe an artist is good because the artist him/herself insists he or she is? And is the quiet, non-tooter of his or her own horn likely to be overlooked for the same reasons, that he or she does not toot? How much is too much. How much should we believe when reading someone's personal website? Where can you go to find out if an artist is good besides hearing it from his or her own mouth, especially since a lot of people don't get an art education?
Got any ideas, Mr. Washington?