In his satirical essay, “The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A)“, E.E. Cummings said,
“Most people …accept [the] agony of the Artist, as they accept evolution. The rest move their minds to the extent of supposing that anybody with Art school training, plus ‘temperament’- or a flair for agony- may become an Artist. In other words, the Artist is thought to be an unsublimated academician; a noncommercial, anti-fashionable painter who, instead of taking things easily, suffers from a tendency to set the world on fire and an extreme sensibility to injustice. Can this be true?” – Vanity Fair, 1927
The ideas Cummings posed and the questions he asked in 1927 persist today.
Who are the Artists and where is art in our modern world?
What is it that determines who is an Artist? Is it a state of being or living? Is it about academic success? Is it about commercial (financial) success? Is it about social media or popular success?
Could it be that being an artist isn’t about any one thing in particular?
I propose that artists are everywhere.
Artists do not represent a closed group of singularly remarkable people doing specialized work.
Art, Artists, creativity and creative problem solving are a part of our everyday in ways most of us don’t ever see, in a way most of us aren’t even aware.
Every moment of our every day is touched by creative process; in the cut and colour of the clothing we wear and in the design and construction of our furniture, architecture, roadways, cars, communication devices, movies, books and more.
Without creative thinking, without art, the innovation that brought all of this to us, would not exist.
Art is a reflection of the priorities of our society.
All art (whether it be urban design or toothbrush colour) expresses our most basic human need to communicate our preferences, personality, connections, status and desires.
Successful art elicits from its viewer, surprising moments of recognition, connection and reflection; it is a revelation of shared human experience and a sense of belonging. Art is a necessity in the healthy development & growth of ourselves and our global communities.
We are Artists, all of us, though whether we call ourselves by this name is irrelevant. It is the realization we have the ability to see, create, build, communicate and become alive to what surrounds that is crucial.
“…to become alive, or [to become] one’s self, means everything.” – E.E. Cummings
* excerpts from the presentation, “Who is Artist?”, by Janet Bright, 2015