Growing up, I was often taught not to "toot my own horn", and for me, that even carried over into always being told "do something constructive".
Which can be a good thing, we need more construction and less destruction these days. However, after years of being told to be helpful, do your duty, and "be constructive" when I'm bored, the message I received (which came from well-meaning but twisted religious views) is that I wasn't valuable unless I"m being helpful. Ouch.
And "helpful" is very subjective!
But the need to have my art be "helpful" has haunted me throughout my career. But helpful, in a daily living, meet-your-needs-to-live sort of way doesn't equate to Valuable. Toilet paper is helpful but most of us don't consider it valuable. Necessary, but not impactful.
I do want my art to HELP, but not necessarily be USEFUL. Ideas can change the world.
How can I make art that is needed? I need to sell my work, that's business and keeps my bills paid. So do I make art that is useful, or impactful, and why do I list them as mutually exclusive?
My hand-painted totes were my solution for making art that is primarily USEFUL, and it's worked. Many people who cannot, or would not. invest in an original painting otherwise will buy my totes because they are useful and affordable. But do those totes have much impact? I don't know. But they aren't where my passion lies.
It's hard to me to make something that has no purpose or message other than to be beautiful. But why isn't that enough for me? Part of it goes back to the religious upbringing, but to the healthy portion of my faith that stays with me. If you have been given a gift, you have a responsibility to use it. "With great power comes great responsibility" is NOT just for superheroes. We all have the responsibility to use our gifts.
You've seen many political statements made through large art pieces that aren't useful, but have stirred a up a storm because of the IDEA. And that's what I want to do-- present an idea to you that makes you think.Maybe it's showing you something fascinating otherwise taken for granted. Maybe it's a reminder of a sunset or a farm you loved when you are miles away or in the dark of winter.
I am honored to use such a temporary material to create something with much longer impact. Even if you don't think of my art ten years down the road, if a piece I made today inspires an action to be a loving one, then it has fulfilled it's highest calling as art.
And it just might be pretty too.