I write this in the wake of a very busy month and on the heels of another marathon of exhibitions, shows, holidays, travel, the Artstravaganza, and workshops amid the ordinariness of life. I am not alone as it seems everyone’s dance cards are full. Among the myriad of events, I attended two lectures, both equally powerful and inspiring. Both got me thinking and reflecting on myself as an artist who is actively engaged in my communities and the communities in which I am actively engaged.
The first lecture was given by the dynamic duo of Dean Steven Tepper of ASU and author and artist Sharon Loudon. Sharon has compiled the stories of 80 artists in two books showing how artists extend their practices beyond the studios to be agents of change in their communities. If you have not read her books, I recommend them to anyone who is serious about themselves as an artist.
The conversation touched on the aspect of the artist myths that may influence how we view ourselves and our artistic practice. Consider the myth of the starving artist. Or the sellout myth. Or the tormented artist myth. Or any of the multitude of misconceptions that artists have been prey to for generations. What myth or limiting belief are you living by – consciously or otherwise? Once you de-mystify this limiting belief that is most likely holding you back you can change the narrative and your perception of yourself as an artist. This is very powerful work that you may not even realize the depth of influence these stories have on your expression.
The other lecture was by the new Director of the School of Art at ASU, Joanna Grabski. Joanna discussed the artistic culture of a city, and that it is the people and projects creating its identity. As she spoke I thought about the artistic culture at AAG and how we show up as a community in support, collaboration, and celebraton of one another. Or show up in the face of opportunity such as for exhibition or education. But opportunity need not end there. By showing up and engaging with your artist peers, unlikely opportunities come alive. It is these opportunities that create the culture, foster collaboration, and exploration of similar or opposing ideas. Every gathering of two or more is ripe with opportunity.
I invite you to examine your contributions to AAG’s artistic personality. Contribution is not necessarily financial or dependent on volunteering your time. It can be showing up for other member’s exhibitions or events. It could be friending, following, sharing, and commenting on social media. Or checking in on a current or past member that you haven’t seen in a while. Perhaps you do some of this, or none of this. I invite you to look at yourself as an active member in a new way. Question your motives. Question your actions. Is what you are doing enough to satisfy your own needs as well as those of AAG? Is it reciprocal? Proportionate? Generous? Collaborative?
From my perspective, AAG is an extraordinary organization with a strong core value system of social engagement, encouragement, and personal artistic expression. I am proud and honored to be aligned with a vibrant community such as ours. As we plant the seedlings for the next 90 years, let’s do so with intention and purpose that moves from a group of individual artist members to one of collaboration within and beyond our borders extending to the city, surrounding communities, and beyond.
In the spirit of the holiday season, on behalf of the board, I wish you happiness, good health, and creative expression during this holiday season.