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you can't outsource your soul work

Tuesday Aug 04, 2009

Grant Me Strength

There are many out there with vested interests—economic, cultural, and political—in preserving and controlling that which is sanctioned as art, and even what type of art gets shown [and to some extent, what art gets made] and supported by way of grants, awards, and fellowships.

Let’s face it. Given the hardships that a creator must endure to persevere, it is no surprise that few with a paintbrush have the mettle to confront the gatekeepers who faithfully and dogmatically defend the establishment.

Gauguin and van Gogh, for example, never received an award, fellowship, or a grant for their work; they didn’t allow rejection, hard times, or a lack of encouragement to dissuade them from painting in their language, nor will such tests of character paralyze you; that is, after you have successfully confronted the core questions in this book [An Artist Empowered]. Art is free from routine, contrivance, conceptualization, and ideas. Art, however, does thrive in the deep pool of realization.

Art without motive is, after all, art for art’s sake, a declaration that is all too often misunderstood.

On balance, art funding resources have budgets, and they do want to award grants and fellowships to artists. Of course, if they want oranges, don’t send them apples; if you can insinuate yourself into their program organically and you do so on purpose, you are still on sacred ground; however, if you start thinking solely in terms of what funding sources demand, then you have been co-opted because someone else has dictated what type of art should be made—even if it was your idea.

Most grant and fellowship giving organizations have websites where you can view previous winners and the quality level of their work, which is an eye-opener—you will have to come to your own conclusions.