The Function of the Artist

I know a very highly esteemed scientist who thinks artists should only make art. He very much dislikes artists who are involved in various political parties or have social agendas, artists who use their art for protest or for support of protestors. His view is that artists should leave everything else alone and stick to their art.

Actually, I can see his point. After all, what does an artist know about except the art they are creating? What gives any artist authority to speak up or speak out on any topic other than they ones they have as their primary creative expressions?

I have the opposite opinion. I think an artist is almost obligated to speak up on topics of importance to the greater world in which his or her art takes its place. Who can measure the signficant of the artist as a catalyst of change? Did we not need the protest songs of the Vietnam War or works like Picasso’s “Guernica”? What about symphonies, songs and operas about war or the suffering or sacrifice is causes or the many films illuminating various outrages in the world? Haven’t they had a valuable impact over the years?

An artist is someone who is giving to the world a new vision through his or her eyes, ears and voice. A truly well-developed artist is going to shed light on a topic causing us to re-think what we know, to examine how and why we know it and make us confront ourselves by and through the reactions we have to their work. The artist who does only what he is told, like a robot, isn’t an artist at all. Of course, there are quite a few who have made money or become famous without a modicum of originality, creativity, uniqueness or insight into anything. Success, unfortunately, is not often based on strictly artistic criteria.

Frequently, an artist sees things that others miss. And because true creativity is always drawn from within the artist’s own mind, she must confront her own process in a way that many people can avoid. I know that artistic people can be small-minded and terrible, just like everyone else, but I have seen so many beautiful souls in my life who were not only wonderful artists (mostly performing artists, but fine artists also) that I would say that the majority of them, interested in producing work of the highest quality, are not only terrific people but sensitive, compassionate and open-minded.

If you are a singer and you work to make your singing be as true and authentic as possible then your singing sends forth a special message that only you can deliver. Your voice, your ideas, your point of view in what you sing and how you sing it, matters, and it matters not only to those who hear you either live or on recording but also to those who will never hear you. How? Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so how you shape the energy you choose to draw forth from the universe, changes the universe, for everyone everywhere. [That’s cool, if you take time to contemplate it.] The more you draw upon “source” the more you move energy around, the more impact it has, the more the world grows into something it was not prior to your creation. No one has to be aware of that at a conscious level, but it is so nevertheless.

If we are to heal the world, we need to have healing be a part of the intention for the art we create when we generate it. That doesn’t mean it always has to be soft and peaceful, just that it have a clear purpose towards the long-term well-being of all humans, animals and the planet itself. We need not know how this will manifest, we need only take part in the artistic process of creation with a clear intention. Then, alongside the work of others with the same intention, that which we have germinated will blossom into the world. It cannot be otherwise.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Function of the Artist”

  1. Many of us avoid singing material whether for ourselves or for our choirs that demeans the dignity of women. Much of our current pop music has lyrics that celebrate pornography or misogyny. Sadly, these messages sell and the more outrageous the performer in presenting his/her sexual prowess, the more money is made.

    Where are the songs that celebrate fidelity in love? Where are the songs that celebrate sacrifice for the good of one’s family or friends? Where are the songs that celebrate honesty and integrity?

    I look for these themes in song texts constantly and urge composers and lyricists to move out of the tired pop themes to give us something worth singing about. With the prohibition against religious texts in most school, we must offer character building texts that carry the same gravitas without religious language.

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