Monday, 12 May 2014

On artists and their parents

Can't attribute the artist because this fact wasn't identified in Googe images.
Suffice it to say that a lot of tattoos I've been looking at point to the importance of family.

It was inevitable this weekend that I would be thinking about motherhood, as it was Mother's Day yesterday.  However, I did not expect to be thinking about it for almost two weeks, which is what happened.  Part of the reason for this was that on three occasions I met with artists, who made a point of introducing me to their mothers.

I often talk about my practice as an arts writer as building a bridge of words.  It is what I figure I do: constructing a way for the audience and art object to connect.  I see myself as a facilitator or a midwife rather than a critic who is trying to pick apart something.  It is a choice of synthesis or putting things together.  Although I take care not to use language that will alienate my audience, it is only recently that I have discovered that parents of the artist are an important part of that audience.

During the past two weeks I have had four artists tell me that an article I have written about them has made a significant difference to their relationship with a parent.  It helped the parent understand a vital part of their child's life.  Wow.  What more could I ask for?  And why had I never thought about this before?  It is so obvious. 

In my books, a true artist is someone who has no choice but to create.  In order to be happy, to survive, creating art is necessary to an artist.  I am that way about writing.  I write the way other people breathe–without question.

Still from a video by Kailey Bryan.  Kailey's mum was one of three mothers of artists
 that I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend.

Back to artists and their parents.  The parent child relationship has to be one of the cornerstones of human existence.  As children, we crave our parents' approval and understanding.  But it is very hard to have meaningful approval without genuine understanding.  Having your art written about and published in a respected magazine or journal is validation in and of itself.  It means you have arrived as a professional artist; you have been recognized.  If that writing is done in a way that is insightful without being burdened by jargon or art speak that sense of validation extends to a wide circle of colleagues, friends and yes, parents.  Most artists regard their art as an extension of themselves and so that sense of validation runs deep.  What I have discovered is that it allows an artist to share a part of themselves with some very significant people, including their parents.  It engenders a conversation that might not have happened otherwise and enriches an already profound relationship.  Aren't I lucky?

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