So many extraordinary expressive works are the result of creative
self-indulgence, detachment from the expected, and even disregard for how they might be received. The dangers of defining our work through its impact are two-fold (at least): First, we might begin to assume we know in advance where and how that impct will arise. Second, we might compress the time in which we expect that impact to show itself (Will we transform lives this quarter? Or will it take several decades to transform even one? And is our board ready for that kind of long view?). Despite these dangers, I'd encourage everyone to ask themselves, their co-workers, and their boards about the core and ultimate purpose of what you do. Do you present art? Or do you curate human impact through the arts?
Reflecting on my own works of art albeit I am not at the Whitney I recognize that the most poignant works evoking a connection to a "receiver", edifying that sacred space between a viewer and creation are usually as Andrew Taylor terms "self indulgent". Interestingly enough in discussion with other artists that is when we create works of art that are true to our hearts. When we do what we desire or meet our own needs (perhaps our own personal therapists)that the jewels are produced. Often when I have tried to force the idea or impact, the work feels trite or worse open for criticism on a piece that may not resonate with my core and leaves nothing to defend. Lives are transformed in the baring of ones soul. I experience this response recurrently. The recurrences goes for work where I try too hard to make an impact. The results a repeated waste. Perhaps I am not brave enough for controversy. This is not the first time I read this from myself. Perhaps my convictions aren't controversial. I take on competition but I am at discord with conflict. My self indulgence is responding creatively to joy, mystery, aesthetics, simple pleasures. It must be Thursday like Alyson Stanfield's Deep Thought Thursdays. Often discussed by my peers is the issue of not just creation, self indulgence, or disregard for other's opinions but the opposite in seeking approval for the goal of sales. Career artists may be forced to vacillate between the heart and the pocketbook. In the past I sadly coined this as prostitution of creativity. Opinion generated strokes. For me my purest unadulterated art is in disregard from economic concerns , or preconceived receptions.