Blog: When I Retire

Christine Alfery

Posted on June 30 2021

Blog: When I Retire

Featured image: Little House on the Hillside

I will retire or quit being an artist when others control so much of what art is and can be. For now, I will continue to speak for the arts as something unique and individualized, and I will continue to use art as an example of how artists think about the work they do. That would be a wonderful way for our culture and society to think about what they do.

I am quite sure when some look at certain pieces that are calling themselves 'art,' they are thinking, "Where is the skill in that? Where is the passion in that? Where is the art in that?" And yes, I have even heard them say, “My 6 year old could do that.” They don’t realize it but actually, that's a compliment. Because as an adult we forget about the 100% authentic-ness of a 6-year-old. A 6-year-old is not indoctrinated into the system yet. Their authentic-ness and innocence is something we lose as we grow older.

They have no idea of the skill and passion put into an actual work of art. They have no idea of what it takes to be an artist. Most people don’t know of the years and years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that goes into a work of art. So when I say, "I quit," will be when others control too much of the freedom of what art is – and actually tell me what I should do and how I should do it. When others control the conditions of my work, the choices I make for my work, and the amount of reward I receive for me work, when others enslave art to some social construct, some ideology that limits my freedom, that is when I will quit. When others say I am being selfish to insist on my independent space, and the choices I make, then for me art will no longer be art. When others say I am being selfish because I should not have the right, desire or choice to choose, but only to serve their needs, I will quit.

I have wondered and written about these 'others' who think their ideology is above mine, at their smugness, where they insist on the right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience and to stifle my mind. What is it about them that determines my ability to think?

Our culture is beginning to discover, well at least I hope they are, what kind of art and artist they will get. People are beginning to see what kind of creativity of thought and adventure that they have when their control over creativity is complete and everything matches in the living room. Hopefully, they are beginning to discover that the monochromatic rooms and lives that would be produced and created. The whole thing reminds me of a popular song some years ago, which by the way I mockingly sang loudly along with every time it came on the radio.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- Little Boxes and Other Handmade Songs
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook
---- There's Music in the Air: Songs for the Middle-Young

 

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