Thursday, August 16, 2007

What Counts!

Many years ago, well over twenty, I taught a class at RISD called Light In The Tunnel. At that point I was thoroughly aware of the risks of being an artist and that we all needed to take care of each other. I suppose I grew up with the dark tunnel because as long as I could remember I was an artist, and as long as I could remember people warned me how hard it would be.

Even as a little boy I hung my brother and sister's work in my room because my mother didn't acknowledge what they did, only what I did. It didn't seem fair or right even then, as much as I may have personally enjoyed the attention. I still feel exactly the same way. I feel like there has to be room for all of us, that that comes first, that that is the law. I still try to hang the work of my brothers and sisters. I still think being an artist is just something we do. I still think it is not a competition.

Comaraderie was one reason I liked being a young artist in Rome. It seemed more of a together thing. Brothers and sisters. Even New York had quite a bit of that. For that I liked New York. People in the arts looked out for each other.

I've talked about how artists start wondering if what they've been doing adds up(usually happens when another artist dies and we look at their life's work). The numbers thing struck me. Adding up. And then: what counts. Counting. Mattering. Counting means mattering; mattering means counting. The numbers. It gives one a little peak into the way we think. The way we operate. It gives one, a little light in the tunnel.

One way or another we have to come to terms with the numbers. We have to do the math. We have to play the numbers and decide. What matters? What counts? Again, values. Values means numbers. We can talk values all we like, but at the bottom it is still numbers. What's number one? Whose number one? Sounds mean. Is mean. Life isn't fair. Fair is up to us. Each ONE of us. And then the numbers can add up to something good, and that is good news!