stella adlerIn response to my recent posting on FB of this Stella Adler quote and describing those who don’t have something to contribute as fillers, a very wise, dear friend responded privately:

“”Fillers?’ Not true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind. It takes courage to be on any stage and most people do their best. C’mon guys, if no judgement intended why post that quote?”

I have wanted to address this issue for some time and I guess now is my chance.   First, regarding fillers, I wrote a blog, called The Chosen a few months ago in which I attempted to distinguish “the chosen,” from what I called “civilians” or “fillers,” those who do not contribute much to society, perfectly good people who choose for any number of reasons to simply work, fit in, do their part, and nothing more.  The world needs both the chosen and the civilians; both can achieve happiness and fulfillment.  In fact, the truth is at any given moment in our lives, most of us shift between these two categories.

The rise in arts and creative self-expression, with community theatre and Wine and Painting Parties, which celebrate the enthusiastic contributions of the uninitiated (civilians), but who may not have spent their lives studying, practicing and living their art.

BBACworkshop09My singular mission as a teacher is to empower everyone I teach by providing tools for success.  I believe with the proper training and dedicated practice, anyone can become a fully self-expressed artist.  I’m proud to say I’ve facilitated the careers of many who might never have believed in themselves enough to try.

Empowerment has become such a huge buzzword in our society.  Knowledge is power, and power has become increasingly decentralized and readily available.  Virtually, the sum of human knowledge now fits in the palm of our hand.   There is really nothing standing in the way of our learning about drawing, painting, writing, acting, jet propulsion, except the shear clutter of information itself.  You name it, the knowledge base is out there to answer any question we may have.

I used to have a monopoly of sorts on know-how.  When I started out there were very few people who knew how to paint portraits.  Not so anymore. Everyone is an artist.

To be sure, I believe everyone can and should find their creative outlet.  But like the villain in The Incredibles,” who invents high tech devices which make superpowers available to everyone, and proclaims his evil plot in the end, “if everyone is special, then nobody is.”

So now we have a very crowded field and it has become exponentially more difficult to stand out from the millions of artists working today.  I’m not complaining.  Really.  That’s the world I helped create.  I’ve given away more secrets than I was ever taught and I’m happy to do it.  I think the Democratization of art is a great thing.  Facebook and other social networks have given everyone a vehicle for reaching out and sharing their talents, which is fantastic!

The dilemma is that when enthusiastic amateurs, celebrating their new found superpowers, and excited to share and sell their work for a few dollars, undercut the professionals, who have dedicated their lives to the profession.

“The cream shall rise,” you say?

sunset marsh smallOkay true, but what then does it even mean to be a professional any more, when nice paintings are literally a dime a dozen?  There is so much art, available in the form of digital images, flooding people’s FB pages, that there is no longer a need to own actual art.  The image is all that is necessary anymore.  You can get “great wall art,” of virtually any image, blown up onto huge gallery wrapped giclees.

We don’t even have to go to a museum anymore.  You can go the Metropolitan Museum website and view high res digital images of masterworks (incredible, I recommend it to any student of the arts).  See a recent blog, Ghost Art, which gets into how the digital image seems to have supplanted the need to view art in person, let alone own, actual artworks.

Not sure what the answer is.

I’ll never be the one to tell someone they don’t have the right to be an artist.  That’s not how I roll.  Perhaps society just needs a little time to get over the exciting world of 3D everything and will rediscover what is actually in front of them.  Meanwhile, the only thing I can actually do, is work ten times harder to produce good work and get it seen by the right people than I once did.  Cue the violins!

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