The Big, Important Role of Artists

(Tim Jackins answering a question about artists, at the New York, USA, Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop this June)

Question: Could you talk about the role of an artist in this society and how it will change as we re-emerge?

Tim: In this society, you, as an artist, are a commodity. You produce for sale, though you are allowed a little more leeway than most people to be yourself—in non-threatening ways. If you produce in a way that ends up supporting some piece of capitalism, then you are co-opted. If you don’t do that, you can only exist on the margins and you don’t get easy access to people.

Your job is to look, take in everything, and use your own mind and unique perspective to re-construct a vision that clarifies some aspect of reality and puts it out for people to remind themselves of it. Your job is to dare people to think bigger, to help them get a look at the inner relationships and possibilities and what’s open in front of them, as well as what has happened behind them.

Part of the job of an artist is to generate six billion artists. It is not just to “see what I can do, see what I can remind people of,” but to put out the message that all people get to be part of this endeavor to be artistic, to show their minds. You get to encourage other artists.

Of course, in this society, you can’t easily work that way with other artists. Capitalism makes you think your survival depends on other artists not surviving. Competition is set up. It corrupts and interferes with what you want to say. It makes you scared to show your full vision. You feel you have to tone it down, so that somebody in a position to insure your survival or popularity cannot be made uncomfortable.

Capitalism does this everywhere, with everything that anybody tries to do with his or her intelligence and ability to show something to another person. It does it to artists. This has nothing to do with art, and nothing to do with the big, important role artists should play in society of leading by showing perspectives.

We need people who sit down and look at what’s going on and portray it from their perspective. There’s no end to how many of these people we need. They should be part of every neighborhood, every block. There should be somebody who, as often as he or she generates it, puts art on his or her front stoop so that everybody walking by knows that it will be out there by Tuesday and that they’ll get this latest glimpse of reality from someone. And it gets to go farther and bigger than that, given the ways we have to communicate now.

Like any other push forward, increasingly clear pictures will be circulated more and more widely, where more people can be inspired by them. As you not only fight through mastering the skills of art but also fight through the distresses that hold you back, your pictures of reality get larger and better. There is a training period during which you get to practice, when your picture isn’t clear enough to get out of the neighborhood, but then it gets out of the neighborhood and moves. The worldwide web would be a good vehicle for this. People could tap into a million different pictures of reality, from a million different artists, any time they had a slack moment to do so.

Last modified: 2015-03-24 23:26:30+00