From the Archives: Gratitude and Service for the New Era Artist
A piece composed formerly for Camp Happiness, a Zaadz Pod on February 9th, 2007
I have stopped believing in coincidences. I am increasingly aware of signs. As I have opened myself to all possibilities, I find that there is far more to be gleaned from life than we are ever led to believe…
I recognize and honor synchronicity, and in doing so I am staggered by the way life presents itself. But then in knowing that, what sort of responsibility does that leave an artist with? Knowing that ultimately as we become voices and vessels for the message, there must be something that can be done to honor not only the message, but the messenger and those who would receive it. And in fact, there is.
In The Manifesto for The New Era Artist, that I currently have under development, one of the key aspects I have identified in being a New Era Artist is:
“The work is done in the spirit of gratitude and service.”
This ideal in and of itself is a gift, for in it resides power.
If the well that we draw creativity from is just beyond our fingertips and our mind’s eye, and through meditation we know it to be a bottomless resource, there must be a way in which the well becomes replenished. It does so in exploring the full cycle of the working process.
Each of us finds a way to arrive at the place that we work from. Whether drawn or led we find our places of inspiration. Speaking for myself, often “the work” will come about in my being faced with a question. Probably the first question that I ever had which I sought an answer to was “Why did my father abandon me?” In asking the question, the work begins.
The next step in the process manifests itself in the search, both interior and exterior. At one point in my life, I had the opportunity to ask the question of my father, but he didn’t have the answer then, and I have no doubt if I posed the question to him today, that he would be anymore equipped to give me an answer. Either way, the search process continues…
Ultimately and hopefully we arrive at a place of insight, not so much in providing an answer, but asking a deeper question. And therein, the process is furthered and enriched. Somewhere in the process we arrive at the result which might be a painting, a piece of music or film, a photograph or a haiku. But in my sense, it is neither the process nor the product itself that result in the art.
As breathing, thinking beings we all ask questions and seek answers. Sometimes we arrive at conclusions, sometimes we only are left with greater questions. That goes to the human experience.
Sometimes we are honored with a by-product to our questioning. A painting which confronts the fear we have for the future, a play which brings to life a personified god which we might choose to wish for, a table which is passion set in wood and made incarnate. But does any of that go anything beyond craft?
I see the difference between art and craft in the act of the craft’s being given. In releasing our crafts, we free it from inertness. The story sitting in the drawer hasn’t had the chance to serve it’s ultimate purpose. Not only in the sense that by “giving” the work, we allow others to consider, learn from, and grow from the work. But in the act of giving we ultimately receive the gift ourselves.
In giving birth to a child, what good do we do keeping her home? We will never receive the gift of life by failing to release the child to the world. The same remains true for our works. Our works are no more capable of growing and maturing then the child locked in the basement.
So creating the child isn’t enough. Raising her with love and care doesn’t help her truly live. And what about our work?
In releasing our craft into the world we let it go on to be another person’s inspiration. We give the work an opportunity to serve as another searching soul’s answer which in turn releases a mind to ask another question. The work becomes another building block to another work of art.
Time and time again, we hear an artist of high acclaim who speaks to a work’s imperfection. Often, it is the reason that an artist will give for why they aren’t ready to let go of a piece. That is often equal parts insecurity and our fear of every really letting a work go. A mature artist realizes the work is never completed, nor is it truly ever finished. We set a piece down so that we might continue on to the next piece… So that as our work grows, we grow. As we set the work out into the world it has the opportunity to serve others.
This is where the New Era Artist gives life and light to their art and to the world. None of this is particularly new. The ideas have been out there to for anyone to pick out, the difference is the emerging intent.
In setting out to create our work with the purpose of gratitude and service, we fulfill our purpose to humanity and in doing so, we serve ourselves. In serving ourselves we are given the necessary energy and impetus to serve a greater purpose. It is inherent in the nature of the cycle. Searching leading to creation, creation leading to giving, and in giving we receive fuel for the next part of our search.
All of these ideas have been lying somewhere inside of me as they have been derived from observation, discernment and participation in the world. None of the ideas are truly of me, any less than they are of you. All of it has come about in the spirit of service and gratitude, and in my releasing this piece to the eyes that will run across it, I give it a chance to live and breathe and serve a greater purpose. But for myself, I wasn’t able to set the ideas down, let alone release them until I came across another piece of art.
The force that set this piece from my heart and mind came in the inspiration of a performance by Peter Gabriel of his work, Lay Your Hands On Me. The performance is the perfect metaphor for the words I have set forth.
Without giving too much away, by looking at the work we can see the music centered in the ancient art form of percussion… The percussion that set forth a stream of ideas, words, sounds and feelings in a single artist, Peter Gabriel. In turning those ideas over to the collaborators that Gabriel has continued to work with, the work takes on a larger scope and richer form and ultimately becomes something ready to be released to a hungry audience longing to be fed sublime experiences. In the search to fulfill that need, the piece grows into a performance which leads to…
If you haven’t seen the performance yet, well, watch it and imagine the rest of the cycle for yourself. Then see what it inspires in you.
This is the opportunity we have as artists whether we are led by a higher power or creator, or recognize a collective well from which we all draw. Either way, as we go about our work in the spirit of service and gratitude, not only do we truly free ourselves to do the work, but the process becomes one of replenishment rather than depletion.
This is also the opportunity we have when we choose to take on the role of New Era Artist. In doing our work in gratitude and service, we are laying the groundwork for the next person to come along and lend their hand to the craft. In taking on the role of the New Era Artist, we are doing our small part in contributing to something larger. As long as we continue to give of our gifts, we will return to the place from which we are able to draw inspiration. Trust in that knowledge the same way your body knows that as long as you let go of your breath, your lungs will take in more air.
Giving the gift of your art is no different…
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