How are you creating the change you want to see in the world?
For most of my life, I have felt guilty about being an artist/writer/creative. Because for most of my life, I bought into the false narrative that art is an indulgence. And to make art is to choose a frivolous existence of debatable value. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s artists who challenge the way things are and who change our culture. It’s creatives who have the ability to disrupt power structures and show us a different way forward.
Of course, it’s in the best interests of humans who profit off the patriarchy to diminish art’s inherent power. And, when that’s not possible, to coax art into the folds of capitalism where it can be better controlled. Ironically, so much of the revolutionary art that’s created is the result of the oppression and scarcity that these power structures perpetuate. In this way, capitalism and the patriarchy’s greatest strengths might also be the cause of their undoing.
On a more human level, artists/writers/creatives have chosen the difficult task of waking folx up to themselves and the world. We feel called to make work that no one asked for and that no one knows they need yet. What’s more, we still have to function within capitalism. We have to figure out how to be critical of the hand that feeds us without cutting ourselves off from it. Because there can be no revolution if our bodies and our art go hungry.
This is anything but frivolous work. It’s dangerous work. So many of my creative peers are risking everything to make their art. They’re risking financial stability, their health, their comfort, and their access to dignity and respect. They’re choosing to live in constant contradiction with themselves, their values, their identity, and their communities. To be an artist/writer/creative is to be a living, breathing paradox. We aren’t necessarily good but we’re absolutely awake.
In addition to the guilt I used to feel about being an artist/writer/creative, I thought that change looked different than what I was doing. That creating change could only look like going to protests, getting involved in local government, and/or volunteering within my community. I now know that in addition to those totally valid avenues for change-making, making art is also valid. For some of us, that’s the channel through which we will have the most impact.
Art is complex just like money is complex. And the more I explore and document my creative process, the more I am certain that all any of us can do is show up and experiment and stay curious. So, here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on over the past eight months. It’s my first big attempt to create the change I want to see in the world. I hope you’ll check it out, and more than that, I hope you keep creating your art. It matters.
So, how are you creating the change you want to see in the world?