I’ve been trying to figure out how to handle this post as the questions Ivan has posed have really gotten me thinking. So I will start with the writings.
I keep thinking about the Suzi Gablik article and this quote in particular: “Art should revert from its separation from society and refrain from being an instrument of capitalist exploitation.” It represents the feeling I have when creating art and teaching art when I’m just on the edge of being fully in the flow and engaged in art-making — will anyone buy this? What use is this art if not for my own enjoyment? Isn’t that enough? With the students it’s a matter of figuring out if I can help them use art as a means of aiding self-construction and not focusing on the end game of displaying it for others to see and buy — greeting cards, art on the wall. What if the art is just for us? a private means of self-exploration and the bonus would be if anyone else is drawn to it. There’s more to unpack here, more than my writing skills can manage, and I would be interested in discussing this more with anyone.
This quote is has also stayed on my mind:
“The question of whether or not art will ever change the world is not a relevant question anymore: The world is changing already, in inescapable ways. We can no longer deny the evidence at hand. The need to transform the egocentric vision that is encoded in our entire world view is the crucial task that lies ahead for our culture. The issue is whether art will rise to the occasion and make itself useful to all that is going on.”
Here is the question that continually comes up for me: How can we make art “rise to the occasion and make itself useful”? I love this question and it is one I will start to ask myself as well as my students. It astounds me how relevant this writing is now even though it was written as a call to action years ago (In the 90’s?).
I would like to reiterate how nice it was to read Seonaid Robertson after Suzi Gablik. To get me thinking deeply about how art relates to the world we have in front of us and then to be inspired by beautiful writing and possibility was very well planned out and got me ready to hear about the processes.
As for my personal interests in art-making, I would really like to forage for things on my land that will guide me in furthering my exploration into sustainability. With a large garden – what can I plant to make dyes? With my bee hive – what can I do with wax and honey? With our chickens – what can I do with the eggs (I now know, make egg tempera paint!) or the feathers? With my bunny – what can I do with the spun wool? And just with foraging around, what can I find in the natural environment of North East Ohio that will help me create dyes and paints? We have a compost bin – is there anything we can do with that? Or will it help to make art-making a closed loop with the remains of plants going there? Further development here is what I am looking forward to diving into during this course. I would also very much welcome any thoughts or direction you all have on where I can take these elements of my farm into creating my own sustainable art materials.
Our farm at sunset – bees on the left, gardens in the middle and on the right.
My spinning wheel with bunny wool
Our chickens… and my 9 year old :).