Songs for the Struggling Artist

Art as a Gift
July 31, 2011, 11:31 pm
Filed under: art, business, Entries with songs attached, music, theatre | Tags: , , , , ,

My dear friend Robyn sent me a Thank You Note for something I sent her. Robyn is a beautiful writer so the note is a bit of art and moved me deeply. What I had sent her was a CD of lullabies I recorded for her son. This was not my idea (or at least not entirely.) Robyn had expressed a wish, something to the effect of “I wish I had a recording of you singing lullabies.”
I had been trying to think of what I could give her in honor of her son’s birth and simultaneously, I’d been searching for a creative project I could do on my own – one that wouldn’t require a team and fundraising and such – so this was perfect. Robyn’s wish was a pretty offhand one. I think when she said it, I’m pretty sure she had no expectation that such a thing was actually possible. I made the thing, yes, as a gift for her and her family but also for me, to keep my creative juices flowing. I feel Robyn’s suggestion of the project was a gift. I made a gift of that gift. Then she returned it to me with this Thank You Note. Art from Art from Art and I think the circle of Art will continue in the context of a friendship that has always featured the sharing of art. It’s a wonderful thing to be given the gift of inspiration. It’s a wonderful thing to give a gift in return with a piece of art and then to have that gift answered with more art and more inspiration. It makes me want to keep giving and giving.
Essentially, this is why I’ve found so much of my artistic life a struggle in recent years – because it has moved from this GIVING sense to becoming all about GETTNG. How to Get grants. How to Get audiences. How to Get donations. How to Get publicity. How to Get materials. Hot to Get space for rehearsal and for performance. How to Get somewhere. How to Get ahead.
I want to turn this around. I want to figure out how to Give in the context of my art. How to Give audiences hope and pleasure and fun and something to think about. How to Give artists opportunities. How to Give the form some dignity and delight.
I get frustrated when so much of what I have to give is ungiveable. It feels like I have a box full of pedigree puppies with fancy ribbons that I want to give away but no one has space for a puppy and they’re all allergic. So the puppies remain with me, tearing up the house and making trouble. A teacher once told me about Border Collies. Apparently, you have to give them something to do or they’ll tear the place up. That’s what my Art’s been doing for some time, tearing the place up – that is until I found this opportunity to give. Giving puts the Border Collies of my Art right to work and it makes them feel great, too.
For more on Art and the Gift Economy, you can read The Gift by Lewis Hyde (my review of it on Goodreads) or Linchpin by Seth Godin.

This is the song I wrote for Robyn’s son. Sacha’s Song


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