We don’t need any more artists. We need art that matters. We have an abundance of people working in fields that could be classified as art, but to be honest, we don’t need this many. The underlying issue with modern art isn’t with our number of people, but our number of important work.
When perusing Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, we see many many artists and their products. It seems like everyone and their mothers is an artist nowadays. But when people are talking about art, a lot of people are saying, there will never be another Shakespeare or another da Vinci. And with how artists are treating their work today, there won’t be.
When thinking back to the stories of ancient Greece or the Renaissance, we don’t remember all the works of art produced, but we remember “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Odyssey”. Why? Because they were products that reflected the time. A lot of the work produced by today’s artist are nice and eye catching, but real work that will stand the test of time is work that reflects the today and today’s issues and culture.
Take “Hamilton”, a musical by Lin Manuel Miranda, yes it’s a story about events many years ago, but it has themes and stories that still are reflected today. Immigration and race is a massive theme in both the show and it’s production; it celebrates racial diversity in a time where that is being frowned upon by our own government.
Disney is doing a great job of this with their kids movies. “Toy Story” has invaded the hearts of 20-year-olds because it reflects a time that mattered to them. And even though “Wreck-It Ralph” isn’t as critically acclaimed as “Toy Story”, “Wreck-it Ralph” is speaking to kids who grew up with video games because it speaks to a time in their life that matters to them.
Other than stage and screen plays, the picture of a navy man kissing his girlfriend after the second World War is still remembered today because it captured the moment of not just the couple, but the whole country: war is over, we won. And all that can be seen on a print from a 35mm camera.
Today is a great day to start working towards work that matters. We can celebrate the glory of the recent elections or the unity against natural disasters, or capture the horrors of the California fires or write about the brouhaha that is the current state of our government.
No, we don’t need anymore artists. We have way more than we need. But what we do need is work that reflects our victories and defeats that are happening today. Work that matters is work that reflects the human condition, which has its ups and downs, and when we capture those moments where humanity is being shown, that’s when we know we made work that will matter.