After a recent interview with Chet Zar on The Dark Art Society podcast, I received many positive messages from people, and I wanted to share a little about that here. The response was to a few topics, but many had the notion that I was feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, and that they felt that I needed to be reassured that I am. First of all, oh my goodness(!), thank you so much for this! You are all amazing to go out of your way and take the time to write these messages to me. I truly appreciate it and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I am one to question things openly, and I’ve found that sometimes can come across as if I’m debating. But I had no idea that my questions would’ve been interpreted in this other way, and that they would elicit such wonderful personal responses. This is so heartening, and so thoughtful, and I want to note that it was also so unexpectedly needed. (How did you know?? I didn’t even know.. :) I’ve had a rough year – one of the most difficult years of my life – and I’m still feeling it a lot of the time. These responses just lifted me up so much. But I want to point out that this is not about me. This is about us.
“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” – Dalai Lama
(I’ve included a link to the interview at the end of this post)
I felt like after I listened to much of what we discussed in this interview, I noticed a couple times in the nature of how conversation goes, how some topics turned into new and/or variations of a topic that started it. In the case of whether art is important, I absolutely think so and I am behind that belief 100%. I definitely wasn’t questioning whether art is important. What I actually meant/said was something a bit different, but it quite understandably was slightly misinterpreted and taken in a different direction. Chet’s answer was so endearing and so positive and helpful (for anyone who might be listening as well as for myself) and then – as I mentioned earlier, as the nature of conversation tends to go – we were off into something new in the dialog. Which is great, and I don’t regret any of the directions the conversation went in at any point of the interview. As it went on, and we were digging deeper into the important questions, it turned out to be quite an amazing conversation that both of us agree that we both needed to have, and is quite a great one to share with others. I point this out because it’s proof that speaking up about things that we’ve all sort of been told by society are taboo and shouldn’t be talked about is not only a good thing, but it goes to show that sometimes a conversation between two (or more) humans – no matter how well we know each other or not – might be able to help us through something. But here’s the kicker: we’d never know unless we do speak up. This was an important thread throughout the interview, and though maybe not art-related per se, I think it’s one worth pointing out because it speaks to community – and when it comes to community, the first thing I think about is this big art family.
So, in regards to my question “What can I do with art?” What I meant was that because art is what I do and how I speak and act in a way that’s most familiar and deeply engrained, pouring into it as much as I can with all of my heart and soul: what more can I do with art? The emphasis was not on the art as in “what can art do?” It quite honestly was not as if I believe that art is not enough. I believe that art can and does do so much for us, and it can transcend all space and time in order to do it, too! And it’s not that I don’t think I’m capable or that I’m not enough, as in whether I’m a strong human being – that’s not how I meant it either (although yes, I have my days when some things may seem less clear than others). But what I meant was because I don’t plan on changing my line of work which happens to be my soul-sharing life blood as well: What other possibilities in my art am I not tapping into? What else is out there? And there is plenty! The more that I want to do will, without a doubt, be through the making of my art… but sometimes I wake up wondering what the more is. And that thought is not expressed in a dejected way. On the contrary! It’s actually very much a motivator to keep searching for what more means. Posing these sorts of questions is what will propel me forward to try to be a better version of myself as a human being who incidentally makes art, and so that soul-searching will inevitably end up showing in my art. And that motivation is made all the better because of a connection with others.
I have this notion fairly frequently and I’ve been known to be pretty tough on myself as well, which I’m constantly shaping in an attempt to understand what drives me. But when I share these kinds of things, a lot of times I’m posing the thought publicly because I am aware that I’m not the only one who thinks these kinds of things. I write about these subjects here, my posts on social media often pose these sorts of questions, and I speak very openly in interviews and everyday conversations with others. I think because of this, I tend to get messages and comments and emails from friends and strangers alike who tell me about their inspiration, their own personal stories, especially in regards to art, and it always turns into conversations about how life and art are intertwined. They are not separate, but are pieces to the whole that make us who we are. But I think a bigger point I’m trying to make here by sharing this is that though these separate conversations I’m having are with different people, they are all essentially a form of the same conversation. Just as the stories and experiences that form together to shape us do that on an individual level, we humans sharing our stories are all part of the greater whole. And I believe this is where the more lies. It’s in the Us. It’s in the We.
I tend to feel this way especially when the world seems to feel quite crazy (crazier than the usual crazy?), and I believe it’s important to open this up to all who may feel like contributing. I’ve found that by sharing things like this – just the very nature of having these thoughts – it brings all things out onto the table: that we’re all here on the same level, we’re all human, we all feel this way at times, and as long as we can take the time to acknowledge it, assess it, and work with it instead of fighting it, we can do amazing things. And the first step in doing so is to do things like reach out to those who seem to be sharing or questioning no matter how quiet or small their shared story or question might seem to be. We shouldn’t feel as though questioning, uncertainty, or curiosity are indicators of anything other than a search for truth, nor should we be made to feel that that search is anything to be ashamed of. These are very human traits that are the impetus to forming an understanding of who we are and what our story is.
This interview dialog and the satellite dialogs that transpired from it were an unexpected affirmation to keep on doing what I do, and to keep posing those questions, as hard as it may feel sometimes in the search to answer them. To just live in the questions is something we all could do more of. I find myself working to affirm this with others who I see reaching out because I feel it too, I am living it too, and I want others to not feel alone in this questioning of what is more. As artists, we tend to spend a lot of time alone working, and while working alone, we might tend to spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I know I do. Maybe it’s my way of saying ‘I sometimes feel alone in that search too. I see you, and I’m searching too.’ In my case, it’s in my work as much as it’s in my dialog, if not more. But in any case, this is how and when we find each other. By asking questions, sharing stories, using our voice. And I truly believe that we are the best versions of ourselves when we connect with others – when we stand up and reach out to connect and help each other out. The dialog that formed by putting those thoughts out there and the responses that transpired are a testament to that. What a wonderful community this big art family is. Thank you all very much for sharing your selves and your art, for connecting, and for supporting each other.
Here is a link to the podcast if you’re interested in hearing it: