Monday, May 9, 2011

Slave to Markets vs. Free to Create

Embrace (2011), R. D. Lindsey
We often become slaves because we decide to let outside forces dictate the direction for our lives instead of allowing a well-fed spirit to guide us.  At the start of my professional journey as an artist, I decided the art market and collector’s tastes would influence my creations.  I thought, “This is the best strategy for success!  If no one wants your work, how else can you make money?”  After visiting several art exhibits, I noticed that many African-American artists used music as their primary subject.   I wanted to set myself apart, so I refused to create any work dealing with music.  What a series of stupid decisions!

Over the past several months, I have exposed myself to true artists - artists who see their work as a spiritual connection with the world’s inhabitants.  True artists base their success on more than dollars gained from sales.  Success is based on their ability to touch hearts, souls, and minds.  Their work is the deepest form of human sharing.  I have learned my creative expression is a gift from God.  He has given me a story to tell through my hands’ creations.  Now,  I need to tell the story of resiliency.  I am a black artist who must not be ashamed to embrace my heritage and resiliency.   

Fabric sculpted saxophone
Why do so many African-American artist use music as a subject? Because it is so much a part of our people.  Music embraces every part of our being.  On Sunday morning’s it ushers in our worship.  Saturday evenings it cosigns our stories around the card table.  Melodies from living room concerts float out windows to entertain the entire neighborhood.   Music sets the mood for lip locking passion. And regardless of our economic condition, many of us lace our music with a little libation to lift our spirit and dull our pain.  But if we want to really be honest, music does this for every inhabitant of God’s Earth.  Music is a universal embrace.
I have struggled for months to create an image that represents me as an artist.  Nothing seemed to fit until an acquaintance approached me about a commission representing her family’s passion for music.  I started playing around with ideas and felt my spirit soar as I worked on a practice piece.  Since then the commission has died but my spirit has resurrected with the creation of my latest piece, Embrace.  Embrace marks the beginning of a spirit led art career.  With this new beginning, comes  my declaration of  freedom to embrace God’s purpose for my life as an artist.  My way is not crystal clear, but I’m daring to depend on the power of my well feed spirit to light the way.

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