Don't Blame the Words (I)
We grew up and lost touch, and instead of becoming a visual artist I became a writer who draws the occasional quick sketch. On impulse I recently Googled R.C. and was amazed to learn that he has become a self-educated master of oil painting, with the kind of deep, subtle style that comes not just from talent but from years of cultivating talent.
R.C. has received no commensurate rewards for his work, and I know how bitter that is. So I agree that something needs to be changed about the larger art world and a discourse that seems self-defeating.
But the words themselves are not to blame.
Why are "art" and "culture" so loaded? Both can be used in a non-evaluative way, as in "Don't trip over the art," or "Jersey Shore is not reflective of Italian-American culture."
But both words also have a pesky evaluative meaning that irritates people who associate artistic achievement with social privilege and economic advantage. My question is, where does that leave R.C., who gave up conventional success, not for "expressive life" but for art?
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