Artmaking In The Digital World

It took me awhile to return to blogging. I’m back. To those of you who used to follow along, I hope we can have an extended reunion. To those of you who are new, welcome, I hope to see more of you.

I returned to this old digital home of mine because of artist, Summer Walker and her recent assertion of her boundaries as an artist. Recently, she declined to hug people at her artist meet and greet. This caused something of a backlash you can read about here. She gave me some clarity about the importance of blogging to my arts practice.

Artmaking, in general, demands a certain level of intimacy. In writing workshops, it’s not uncommon to hear phrases like, then, I opened my veins and bled onto the page. Successful artists engage their audiences by:
  • providing access to their deepest selves or
  • bearing empathetic witness to the most vulnerable times in the lives of others or
  • channelling those voices the muse offers to them in the deep night.
Artmaking, then, becomes a courageous act of exposure and revelation. A place where your humanity is not hidden, constructed or made presentable.
A few years ago, I decided to stop trying to define my art practice. It got pretty silly there for awhile.
Folks: “What do you do?”
Me: I’m an artist.
Folks: What is your discipline?
Me: Yes.
Me: I show up. I do what the Spirit say do.
Me: Well, I this and I that and I this other thing over here.
Me: I live artfully and then I share my discoveries with the world.
Folks: Okay...

It’s hard to say that in a bio. It’s hard to describe.  What I have come to discover in 30 years of artmaking is that my artform is simply doing me. That’s my art. Doing me takes the form of poems, paintings, videos, designing fabrics and throw pillows, short essays, recipes, ruminations on spirituality, politics and parenting, sharing personal anecdotes.

For me artmaking is my journey through what it means to show up for life. I live my life as artfully as I can possibly imagine and then communicate that to my audience.  Sometimes, it is meaningful to people. Sometimes, it is simply meaningful to me. Not every painting gets shown. Not every poem gets published. Not every film gets made. What is important about art is the artist’s willingness to document showing up and being present with life.
To be an artist during social media’s height is a peculiar and fascinating dilemma. I had abandoned blogging because Facebook filled the “living” part of my arts practice so well. That no longer serves my needs.  For some, like Summer Walker, social media has exacerbated an audience’s constant, voracious demand for more and more and even more access. While, yet others have finally found the long lost audience members for whom they spent years searching. 

Regardless, audiences must always remember, it is the artist who decides how much they share and when they share it. Artists are just people. They wake up every morning, they eat or don’t eat, shit in the pot and wipe their asses just like you. 

Vulnerability is our day job. No one should make us work overtime.


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