Wile a capital idea to sum
I halve no interest
In how you make a living
I would dare say that most of life lost is in the chasm between making a living and doing that which makes you come alive. I would even dare say that being distant from having to worry about basic needs — “having it made” — is a greater threat to coming alive than what life palpitates within us when we are connected to struggling for basic human needs. This narrative runs counter to the liberal, artsy dream of not having to worry about money so you can be free to pursue “more important things,” presumably art as luxury rather than art as necessity.
The art of living is essentially doing that which makes you come alive. This is where art is a necessary reflection of our overflowing aliveness, or, in less flowery language, art is a basic human need. Art lives coequal with our basic material needs of food, shelter, health care, an environment free of violence and full of affection, and the long litany of human rights inalienable to humanity. Art flowers in our connection to others and creation. Revolutionary art serves as a critique of alienation and destruction, which often comes at the hands of money first — sometimes driving a cruel bargain for our humanity; more often offering a seductively easy price for our humanity.
Personally, my art is rooted in both the privileged experience of a first world nation and the surrounding larger reality of vast material deprivation more common than not on this planet we share. I was literally born into this conundrum. As a helpless baby, I was not helpless. While I was born in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, I was not fated to live a life anything like the countless babies born within a stones throw. I was born to well-educated, white Americans — a doctor and a nurse. As a toddler, I would fly off in an airplane, already then cementing myself solidly within the experience of less than 1/20th of the world’s inhabitants. My rant above is perhaps one of privileged hope. I may never know for sure. However, as I grow in my art of living, I find it much wiser and productive to root for humanity, not money. The truth of any above assertions is probably best demonstrated by the fact that Haiti has the largest concentration of artists, predominantly painters, of any nation on earth. Perhaps art is a necessity, not a luxury.