Activism as Art

February 27, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Art, Society

My experience of art is often the way I experience activism.  My goal is to engage and then let myself be guided.  This engenders trust of my unconscious and of the times.

In art it is often the case that I am the observer of what emerges from my fingers.  Theory formation, for me, is art.  I expose myself to information, often feeling led to read the books that I absorb in the same way that I feel led to play with or explore various idea avenues.  When I’m scooping up ideas and information, the concepts realign to reappear as art, in this case, a story or theory.

I was a watercolor artist when I was in my 20s, a comic artist when I was in my late 30s and 40s.  When I was involved with watercolors, I was usually inclined to express internal feelings characterized by distress, shame, frustration, remorse, yearning and feeling alone.  Performing comic strips and panels, I trended toward bitterness, disappointment, frustration, annoyance and anger.

When writing, I feel drawn toward melancholy, reverence, respect, delight, disappointment and awe.  I’m feeling more rounded in my expressions using words.  And, I more often feel the role of the observer as I watch the productions of creativity emerge.  Formerly, I often felt a victim of the creative process, perhaps because feeling the victim was often a central part of what I had to say.

There is a tendency among activists to feel the victim.  I suspect that in art, as in activism, it is about our relationship with our self, our self as other and how that relationship bleeds out into our lives.

Having experienced a succession of art media and several different internal experiences while engaged in the process of expression, I observe an arc of experience/expression that is reflected in both my art and my activism.

At this time both my art and activism are about letting go.

Neither is about making something happen as much as it’s about letting something happen.  What I am letting happen is what is already there.  My job is to trust.  I can choose to trust me.  I can choose to trust society.  Then, I can seek to place myself in a position where what is seeking to be expressed can be expressed.

That which is in me is the same as that which is in society.  There is music, a logic, a wisdom in both.  There is also a hidden, bottomless affection.  My job as artist is to encourage words, to create stories or theories that suggest the beauty of the ways that we are made.  My job as activist is to nurture options that make more likely a sharing of positive experience, to emphasize process in a way that the pathway becomes the goal.

My experience of art is often the way I experience activism.  Trust is central to two sides becoming whole.


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