Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art, Not Artist

I frequent a few online social networks. One of the interesting things about social networking is that you get to learn about your friends' friends. Andrew usually gets into online arguments with those friends of friends. I came close to doing the same this past week when a friend asked if one of my favorite artists would do things in life just to have more interesting creations. A friend of this friend waxed douchy about this artist by assuming the artist lived the art (experienced everything he wrote about firsthand just to create the art without regard for others along the way), and I was ready to jump through the computer and do my best "Hulk smash" on this stranger. (The verbal assault really angered me because I'm a huge fan of this artist and I've witnessed the creation of this latest work through the artist's generosity and the wonders of the internet.)

In order to create a work of art, the artist doesn't have to experience everything addressed in that piece of art firsthand. For example, I wrote a novel about a zombie prostitute. I'm not a zombie or a prostitute but I could still write a novel about the subject because I had enough familiarity with both subjects from other studies to craft a novel. I wrote a short play about a girl who agreed to an engagement and later regretted it; I've never lived that. One should have some familiarity with a subject to try to accurately interpret and express that subject, but one doesn't have to experience every aspect of it to communicate that idea to an audience.

Some people do research to learn more about a subject before basing a piece of art around it. Andrew learned about burlesque before writing Pin-Up Girls. He didn't have to live as a 1940s dancer to write about it. He's doing a lot of research for a new play for next year. He won't know everything there is to know about the subject he's covering, but he'll know enough to effectively communicate it.

There is a difference between the art and the artist. The artist is just presenting the communication as best they can.

And I don't care if someone hates John Mayer's music. They can also eat tofu or bitch about democracy. They may be stupid, but that's their journey.

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