There is no must in Art. Creativity is a fluid, unstructured thing. And listen, when I tell you that it ALL has value. From art that society approves of and considers intelligent and legitimate, to pop art that this same society considers shallow yet entertaining, to art created by those ‘untalented, clueless and trite’ little heathens known as children. Having the ability and wherewithal to express ourselves in the creative manner we see fit should be at the foundation and creed of any society looking to transform, develop, expand and advance.
It is Capitalism that insists we impress upon the one, unfettered avenue of our lives, structure, form, and perspective. Capitalism insists that we must sit collecting dust and debt for the privilege of attending an expensive school, which may teach us to draw, write and even act in acceptable ways. It is important to accept that there is room and need for it all. Our minds are much deeper and better than what we have allowed them to become. What is it that we fear exists in the 90-95% of our brain function we either ignore or do not use? What new forms, what answers, what mirrors, what great wealth and abundance of visions, images, ideas, lay in wait for us to tap into their richness? At times, this place in our minds reveals itself to us when we sleep and dream. Some allow these revelations to inspire their lives and expression. Yet, most of us forget the wildness of our dreams, their colors, or lack thereof, their defamation of time and boundaries, their distaste for rules and mores. We continue to exist, instead, tethered to our fear- driven visions of art and reality, in which we rely only on the external standards imposed on us from when we were children.
I would like to address and discount common multi-cultural perceptions of brilliance. White European brilliance did not begin and end with Shakespeare, Einstein or Picasso. The brilliance of Black Americans did not begin and end with Toni Morrison or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Barack Obama. The brilliance of Latin Americans did not begin and end with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Raul Julia or Junot Diaz. The brilliance of Anglophone Caribbean artists did not begin and end with Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Wilson Harris and Earl Lovelace. And on and on. All of these artists were lucky to have someone in the mainstream recognize their brilliance and publish them or give them visibility as an artist. Some of these artists created work and spoke out against injustice which has altered the course of the world. We do not have to appreciate their work or think even it’s good at all. Those opinions are entirely up to you to form. What their mainstream success means is that these artists found or demanded an audience for their voices. Perhaps, they happened to have attended the right schools or happened to have met the right people. I am not suggesting that each of them did not work hard at what they’ve created. What I am suggesting is that their inherent brilliance is separate from the opportunities they’ve had and the accolades they’ve gained – as it is with the rest of us. Their minds were always brilliant but they channeled this brilliance, got their work into the hands of the right people and the rest is in history books. They are no different from you and I.
How many people channel their brilliance in their lifetime? How many people do channel their brilliance but because of a lack of resources or poor education do not find the opportunities to shine in a global way? Brilliance is not academic, though it can be. Brilliance is an illiterate man who can heal you by moving stagnant energy throughout your body. Brilliance is a highly educated woman who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in chemical engineering from a top tier Ivy League School who writes an avant-garde masterpiece in honor of ancestors she’s heard of but never knew. People have been telling stories, and scratching forms onto walls since man’s perception of the beginning of time. YOU are the standard. YOU are the form. You are such a fabulous human being that you should be arrogant about your right to exist. Develop a sense of entitlement. This especially goes for black and brown people and poor people of all colors. We all have the right to create what we wish in the ways that we choose. We have the right to devote our entire lives to this effort and we have the right to choose our own instruments of expression. You may never have your work hung in a reputable gallery or get your poorly punctuated, yet visionary masterpiece published by a top level publishing house or at all. You might not make any money or you will– but this is not the point. The world will not move in the ways we want it to if more of us do not engage in unfettered self-expression, and if more of us do not express our visions and ideas with integrity. Our basic explorations of human, superhuman and sub-human natures will stay limited. As will our explorations of the universe – space shuttles and satellites, be damned. We will allow the flow of our visions and impressions only to the extent that they are approved of by people whose validation we seek. We must stop taking classes and going to schools and take risks instead. We must keep taking classes and going to schools and take risks. We must challenge our professors. We must challenge anyone who says with our art we ‘must’ and do, instead, what we ‘must not’ but have to. Create something because you do not have any children. Create something because you do. Create, Slavehead, because you are and always were blissfully, deliciously free. Begin now while you have time off from that job you despise. Happy Holidays!!!