What I Left Behind
I remember a line for a popular song—“…you got to pick up on one and leave the other behind.” I don’t remember the context of the song, but that line has been echoing in my mind for some time now as I have struggle d with choices about work, my life’s work., my mission in this life.
I wanted to be an artist. No, that isn’t quite right. I knew I was an artist, but I could never make myself do the things an artist needs to do to build a career. The art world today is a business world. There is nothing new about that; it has been so, in Western culture, at least since the Renaissance. I knew what to do: build a recognizable style and create a body of work, enter art shows and win awards, build name recognition, obtain interviews and articles about my work and me, place work in galleries and museums, and develop a sales record. In short, production, marketing and sales. Along with this I needed to “grow as an artist” coming up with new work that “stretched myself” so I could be recognized by art critics as someone who was contributing to the evolution of the art world. This is what I thought I wanted, but I could not make myself work this way. What was wrong with my vision?
Recently, I found that the conflict within myself was simply whether I valued the art or the message of my art. I am unable to make art to conform to the theme of a show or the size of a gallery wall.
I am good at making my art to communicate with others about things that are important to me. I have created the artworks about mental illness—The Ragged Edge series—and have written the book about it—Depression Visible: The Ragged Edge.
Now I see other subjects to ponder, to put into art form, and to write and speak about. Economics and finance, political philosophies, landform geology, the nature of creativity. I know I still have to do the business part, the production, marketing, and sales, but I am eager to do so. I hope I have time to do it all.
What I left behind is the minimal chance to be a famous artist after I am dead. I would rather help someone understand things they need to know about.