Friday, May 08, 2009

A Revolutionary Road

I quit my one week old job yesterday. If I am utterly miserable than best to change the current situation. This has occured once before and I remember someone telling me not to be a quitter and to stick it out. I was stunned. So stunned I didn't quit for a year and a half. Is this how the majority of the world think, I wondered to myself? Is that why so many people stay in jobs they don't like? I realized on the ship in Liberia that I had never worked for someone full-time for 7 months before. I didn't like the oppression or the dominion wielded over me. I have always worked hard in casual, part-time, or full-time seasonal jobs. I remained my own boss and lived a simple and frugal life. I admit this can become wearing in different ways. I watched the movie Revolutionary Road and it left a bad taste in my mouth, as it was it was meant to. Like the heroine, I have pursued the dream of being an artist believing I would make it one day. What is your definition of success? This question posed in art school was meant to break down the superficial ideas and free us to make our own art. The right answer was wrapped up in increasing your own abilities and creating in realms that had not been discovered, whether by you or others. It was to broach your own safety zone and step out into a chasm ignoring societies pleas to play it safe.
"When the boy was a man he would be known as someone who took large and reckless actions, and he would often think that he had first been like this at Rebus Creek Road where he had first gone beyond what he was brave enough to do and changed himself because of it." (Peter Carey, His Illegal Self). But I have never quite been able to convince myself of this notion of success despite developing my sense of what is accomplished and challenging art. I have humanly wanted to be recognized by my peers, by the commercial world of art and by the theoretical world of art. Fat chance, is todays feeling despite Nigel learning that artist's minds are either floating in a cloud of brilliance or wallowing in a sea of despicable loathing of ones own work. My mind keeps slipping back to a friend of mine, another artist, who was struggling and from an outsiders view (the title I bestowed on myself at the time) I had the answers. I could see that she should market herself differently, should get a part time job to support her art while she was still fledgling, and start giving herself a time and money limit. Of course I placed myself in an entirely different category. I was beginning to sell, I lived simply, I had definite goals and time frames. Such are egos and my disbelief when she told me I didn't support her art. Now I wonder how different I am from her back then. Do people look at me and in their mind know what I should be doing differently, think I should give up, move on, grow up, and finally enter the real world? I admit I am surrounded more by people now whose subtlies I read and I know this is what they are thinking. They don't need to say it or show it. It is more what they don't say. So I am left wondering what next to do and in my mind these are the only realistic alternatives. 1. Jump into my art with all the gusto I have, living, breathing, eating, and sleeping art for a time more before reassessing. 2. Look into something completely different, completely reliable. 3. Pursue something else artistic that would renew my passion, but place me at the bottom rung in another field. 4. Continue with my art alongside a part time job.

11 comments:

tyronebcookin said...

You know you are going to pick 1 or 4. Your brain, your self, your artistic-ness will never let you feel comfortable or be able to reassure your mind that you made the right choice, or loathe it if you pick 2 or 3. Part of 'being' is knowing what other may say or think might need to be considered, BUT still not really caring...

Do you really think your 'self' will let you be less than what you want to be? If it does, I am sure a good bit of regret and depression will come with it.

A part time job may help with finance and creativity...but if you don't feel up-to-par with your art already why would you jump in another field and start at the bottom again? Then again, thats what the 'artistic' side does in people...they usually love change, and starting over is better than doing something outside of letting go altogether.

And that is my 2 cents. I hope I painted the picture I was thinking of in my head, but I guess that will be up to your interpretation...won't it?

Let me know how it goes.

michal (W.I.T.W.I.M.) said...

Ha! I love your straightforward comment! When I am down, I am damn dramatic!

Yes, I think you are right, I have come too far to throw everything away unless I get really excited and have a great opportunity in another field.

I choose a combo of #1, 3, and 4. I am going to throw myself into my studio with gusto. If a part-time job comes up that works with my art career then great. I am also extremely interested in a few of the other arts as well and am going to test them out.

tyronebcookin said...

sounds good!

Friar Tuck said...

Hello Old Friend,

My hope for you is threefold: be honest with yourself and your passions; in your art speak the truth as best as you can understand it; and, finally I hope you are able to show patience and compassion for yourself as you seek to figure all this out.

Friar Tuck

michal (W.I.T.W.I.M.) said...

Thanks, Friar Tuck. Some days I think perhaps there is some other completely different career that would fill me with excitement and fulfillment. But how does one go about finding that.

The other think I keep thinking about is going crazy with my art and really experimenting in ways I would not normally because I play it so safe.

I remember an artist friend of mine would start off painting a really safe picture and then destroy it through many more trial and error layers. He wasn't afraid to lose the "good" piece and I can now see that moving through the phases of creation to destruction one starts to register different stages and as a result has more control over them. I am sure it must be the same for all the arts: music, acting...

It is trying to consciously engage the unconscious and just not care or become too technically aware and therefore tight.

Friar Tuck said...

I'm not talking about being constantly innovative in technique. Despite what you may have heard it is okay to paint in a style that is your own and stay with it. Do you think Shakespeare arbitrarily ripped up drafts of MacBeth because the English words had already been used? Or that Beethoven never composed his Fifth Symphony because everybody's heard a French horn before? They wrote and composed using commonly understood techniques. But what they said, the truth they were trying to communicate, was sometimes provocative. However, the goal wasn't to be provocative for innovation's sake. It was a byproduct of their search of honesty. One could say the same of Picasso. We have become so distrustful of anything resembling truth in the 20th century--and I understand why--but Craft seems to have entirely replaced Message. If you want to paint, paint honestly. Style and technique are the means not the end.

michal (W.I.T.W.I.M.) said...

I really like that, Friar Tuck. I think that is what I need to hear right now. In some ways it is rings familiar to something else I have heard many older artists say.

They suggest the way to establish yourself (with yourself and others) is to delve into what you most want to do. This will be recognised in the long run as a unique voice. A bit like what you were saying about truth.

On the other hand, if you want to hit the jackpot young you must study trends and fill a gap, but the trend soon passes you by and you are looking for the next fad. A bit like what you were saying about technique overriding honesty.

But I think you have said something far as well. Something I can practically use as a tool when I go into my studio...seeking truth and the innovative being a byproduct of that.

Sarah said...

Do number 1!

michal (W.I.T.W.I.M.) said...

Yay, thanks, Sarah! That is what I am doing. It helps to have two exhibitions to work towards too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Michal,
This segment reminded me of the times you would torment us with your angst about some decision or direction for yourself. You would solicit everyone's opinions, and then do what you felt was right to do. I found this segment and the responses deeply moving, as the issues you struggle with apply to us all in some way. As a note of encouragement, a couple of days ago I was sitting next to J.H. at Ryan's play, and he told me how he was profoundly moved by your series called 'The Human Right'. He said the effect stayed with him for a long time after. You recalled to me how important it was for you to treat the people you encountered in Africa with dignity...and I think you captured that truth in your presentation.
George

michal (W.I.T.W.I.M.) said...

That is really nice to hear, G. Thanks for your thoughts.