* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
My own natural proclivity is to categorize the world around me, to remove unfamiliar objects from their dangerous perches by defining, compartmentalizing and labeling them. I want to know what things are and I want to know where they are and I want to control them. I want to remove the danger and replace it with the known. I want to feel safe. I want to feel out of danger.
And yet, as an artist, I know that I must welcome the strange and the unintelligible into my awareness and into my working process. Despite my propensity to own and control everything around me, my job is to “make the familiar strange and the strange familiar,” as Bertolt Brecht recommended: to un-define and un-tame what has been delineated by belief systems and conventions, and to welcome the discomfort of doubt and the unknown, aiming to make visible what has become invisible by habit.
Because life is filled with habit, because our natural desire is to make countless assumptions and treat our surroundings as familiar and unthreatening, we need art to wake us up. Art un-tames, reifies and wakes up the part of our lives that have been put to sleep and calcified by habit. The artist, or indeed anyone who wants to turn daily life into an adventure, must allow people, objects and places to be dangerous and freed from the definitions that they have accumulated over time.
Anne Bogart in What’s the Story: Essays about art, theater, and storytelling
Comments are welcome!
Q: In light of the realities you discussed last week (see blog post of Aug. 24), what keeps you motivated to make art?
A: In essence it’s that I have always worked much harder for love than for money. I absolutely love my work, my creative process, and my chosen life. I have experienced much tragedy – no doubt there is more to come – but through it all, my journey as an artist is a continual adventure that gives me the ultimate freedom to spend my time on this earth as I want. In my work I make the rules, set my own tasks, and resolve them on my own timetable. What could be better than that?
Furthermore, I know that I have a gift and with that comes a profound responsibility, an obligation to develop and use it to the best of my ability, regardless of what it may cost. And when I say “cost,” I do not mean only money. Art is a calling and all self-respecting artists do whatever is necessary to use and express our gifts.
In “The Gift” Lewis Hyde says, “A gift is a thing we do not get by our own efforts. We cannot buy it, we cannot acquire it through an act of will. It is bestowed upon us. Thus we rightly speak of “talent” as a “gift” for although a talent can be perfected through an act of will, no effort in the world can cause its initial appearance. Mozart, composing on the harpsichord at the age of four, had a gift.”
Comments are welcome!