I’ve had an interesting message from a fellow artist on Facebook. She asked how I could possibly be creative ‘with so much hate in my heart?’ This was in response to my comment regarding the American election that I posted on my Facebook page with somewhat shaky fingers after hearing the results. It ran as follows:
‘So it’s a new day for America – but remember that as artists, we take materials and weave them into objects powerful enough to distract, educate, enlighten, move, engage and delight. Looks like we’ve all got our work cut out for us today.’
Not really a ‘hate’ post and one I gave much thought to before writing. Being a Brit, it’s not up to me to be personal about the way people voted and I have no say in the result. However, I do reserve the right to have an interest. After all, you can’t have your Oreo and eat it; either America is a world power and we, the world, are rightly invested, or it isn’t and we aren’t. My post was more aimed at highlighting the unique and powerful skills all creative people can bring to bear at a time of upheaval, whichever side you happen to support.
I guess artists are like politicians in our need to grow a thicker skin than most. Sit at any craft fair or open studio and you’ll need to choose how you deal with critics. I think there are two sorts of criticism: the ‘I don’t like that because I don’t like it’ school and the thoughtful ‘that doesn’t work for me because…’ school. The first falls into the kind of circular argument favoured by small children and can be dismissed with the briskness of Mary Poppins. The second kind is much more uncomfortable, but I try to welcome it because it makes me think.
So back to the hate lady. I was pretty sure her comment fell into the first category. But then I got to thinking that maybe she’s actually stumbled into camp two and should be welcomed for reminding me of a couple of things.
She’s the first to accuse me of something nasty and I spend a lot of time on social media, in groups or in the virtual open studio of my page. Isn’t it interesting that, contrary to all the vile bullying and hatred that social media can house, my small corner, populated as it is by artists, creatives and makers, is universally friendly and supportive? If I check out my fellows, they are of all nations, sexes, ages and, I am guessing, religions, sexuality and colour. Yet we all offer help, enthusiasm and encouragement to each other all day, every day. So what I wrote wasn’t in hate, it was in faith of creative people and to point out how powerful we can all be if we try.
Then again, maybe there was a bit of hate? I don’t go in for hating people; it’s far too energetic, but I’ll freely admit that I hate the circumstances and words that lead to unkindness, dismissal or attack of those who, though they are pretty much exactly the same as us, somehow become defined as ‘other’. That could be said of colour, sex, religion or political group, take your pick. Maybe it’s because of that hate that I think we artists should be at our most creative just now? As my last blog mentioned, art can, in so many small ways, make a difference.
So lady out there, I’m not concerned about my creativity. Last time I checked there were still far too few hours in the day to house it, but I’m grateful you gave me cause to remember how much good there is to be found in my fellow artists and creatives and why we should be sharing it freely right now.