“Be Curious” – 5×8 acrylic on canvas
Since moral ethics has come to play in the “arts” sandbox we as artists are witnessing the usurpation of the “arts” strength and arts power. The concept of a moral ethic seems to dominate, music, threatre, and the visual arts. And it is becoming harder and harder to find “independent, unique, individual “art” forms today. These moral ethics are all focused not on the self, though they claim that is what they are asking everyone in the sandbox to agree with. Rather they are focused on creating a level playing field for all, and this level playing field should be based on what “those in power” believe is important for the arts and what they believe is and should be important for the self.
What they are doing in the arts sandbox is forming a “harmonious” collective where all agree this is what the values of art should be, and in turn the artists self, should be morally and ethically be part of this collective. While they all agree art is subjective and the artists self should be in their work they haven’t figured out how that can happen. And where in the world did the idea that art should be harmonious come from? I can remember making a joke of modernism where everything had to match, the sofa, the pillows, the rug, the dress and the painting on the wall. Blah Blah Blah.
I personally hold the position, until convinced otherwise, that art is subjective and to be subjective it is unique and individual. One of a kind just like the artist. So how does the moral ethic currently flooding the art market scene have so much power – because we allow it to, it is easier to not think and fit in to a collective than it is to think and not fit in.
An artist needs to define themselves, what do they believe in what do they stand for, what do they want to say. I do believe that most artists will scream for their liberty, scream for their freedom, scream for their voice to be heard. But how does one find themselves and what they want to scream for?
Objective moral ethics that are a part of who we are and how we play in the sandbox is a good starting point. By allowing the subjective artist to choose their own actions, that will enhance their lives and the lives of others without force and without coercion but through respect for life and the liberty of all individuals playing in the sandbox. This respect allows those who want to deal with values that are whimsical, magical or mysterious to do so, it allows those who what to fight for freedom and independence to do so. Individual artists fight for their freedom – their own life goals, and emotional commitments to what they believe in and in turn respect for each individual in the sandbox to do likewise.
What do they collectively agree on, freedom, liberty and individual rights. Not as defined by others but defined by themselves and based on life, and reason. Can there be an ethical form of reason – I believe there can if it is based on honoring life. Defining, judging, values should be based on a metaphysical reality related to living life, loving life, respecting life and liberty. It should not be based on a moral arbitrary good and evil that a social collective believes in. By using objective reality as a moral ethical code in the arts, the values of art will not be based on a set of principles laid out by some powerful force that wants more and more power. I think of galleries and museums, I think of many MFA programs and university art programs here. I think of how we are educating our future art educators and how they approach their curriculum believing the value of art lies in these social collective principles and social edicts.
What is the reality in the metaphysical reality in the arts? It is arts subjectivity. And this subjectivity should and can remain whole and vibrant if the collectives forming moral and ethical principles go somewhere else. The subjective oxymoron created by the moral and ethical principles of a social right is not possible. The arts until lately have always demonstrated that.