LINC fallout

Post from Tim McFarlane

This post is part of a discussion about LINC, a project that is exploring how to meet the needs of artists in Philadelphia. Here are links to Roberta’s and Libby’s Linc posts–the editors, aka us.

mcfarlaneherethereI agree with a lot of what Charles Hankin wrote in his entry. Particularly the part about artists advocating on behalf of themselves and the arts…I couldn’t agree more (right, McFarlane’s “Here/There”).

…I think a lot of visual artists tend to downplay what it is they actively do with most of their time. Most of us have day jobs to make ends meet, myself included. However, when someone asks me, “What do you do?”, in reference to occupation, I always respond with “I’m a painter”. Period.

Inevitably, the question of how I support myself and my work comes up and I’ll tell them that I have a job, but my main occupation is that of a painter. To me,
this simple declaration puts me in a better position to be taken seriously. Not only that, I tend to take myself more seriously as a creative person.

I think a lot of us shy away from making distinct declarations because of a misguided idea that it’s somehow not good to speak highly of what we do as creative people. Perhaps that is because the fine arts have some to be so devalued in our society that, for some, it’s almost a stigma to mention they are an artist of some type.

Maybe there are flashbacks to a childhood where parents and others made it known that pursuing the fine arts wasn’t an ‘appropriate’, i.e. ‘lucrative’ or of a high enough status. That’s nothing new, as it’s been going on for centuries, but this attitude still defines how many of us approach our relation to the world outside of art.

Another important aspect is to speak about art and what we do in a way that viewers/ participants can make connections with thier experiences in the world. That’s key. If you can talk to someone who perhaps has no background in art history and get them to see connections with what you are doing with your work and the world around them, then half the battle is won, I think. This is particularly important when it comes to abstract painting, video, or installation work.

People do want to know who we are and what we do, but we have to be willing to give a little more, sometimes. We must seriously believe that what we are doing is vital to everyone, bring that messege to people in ways that inspire them, and most importantly, continue to challenge ourselves as artists, keep making the work and put it out in the world for others to experience.

–painter Tim McFarlane, Artblog’s first contributor, will have a solo show of new work at Bridgette Mayer Gallery Aug. 31-Sept. 24