Something that has been coming to mind a lot on this project is the matter of Free Art.
Lately I have gotten a lot of questions and harsh criticism about what I do with my art. I give my art away. Some people tell me I am devaluing my work by not demanding payment, others find it cool but foolish. Some tell my I Should do this or that with it as a "marketing strategy . Today my faith and mission are renewed. I give my art away out of love. I trust that if people find value in what I create they will show me and give back! I trust you and I thank all of you for supporting my work and for finding it beautiful!
I am painting a 170ft wall for free, my gift to my neighbors. I have put about 80 hours of work into this so far and i am not done yet. I have been happy to share this with the neighborhood, to meet people and bring them together. We all live on these streets but most of us have never met.
Though a new dynamic has arisen. The community organizer who has been behind me on this, I learned has lobbied the entire time for me to get a stipend out of the donations that have been given to the project, she wants all the artists who join the graffiti action partnership and create art, to get this kind of remuneration. The reaction she has gotten has been very surprising. The comity does not want to pay the artists, the excuses are very wide ranging from what i hear, but the theme is consistent "Artists Aught to be happy we are giving them a chance to create", they should work for free. And then you have the flip side: community members, who have helped in leg work such as publicizing and donation solicitation and vocalizing will agree and back her up on the stipend, but then insist that they ought to be paid as well!!
Its amazing to me that this much resistance to paying for a skill is coming into play. I never expected to get anything more than some paint stains, a beautiful mural that i made and a happy neighborhood out of this. But all this conflict that Others are creating about me and what i am doing had me pretty torn up.
Well the result is that i have only become more firmly rooted in the faith that if my work is valued then I trust that people will show me. I have been given lunch while working, had many happy volunteers join me in the task and been enriched no end by the experience. The more people question me about "worth" the more frustrated i become. Its not about worth to me! The question is what is this worth to You? to them?
Local police who have started making a point of driving by the wall every shift to see me and the project, neighbors who stop to talk to me and thank me from the bottom of their hearts for the beauty i am creating, the kids who got a chance to paint on the wall with me. These people are who i create for. To uplift their hearts and souls! What do you think it is worth to them? The ones who are drawn inexplicably to keep coming back to the wall.
yes, i am below the poverty line. I have the same struggles as All my neighbors, not making enough to get by. Relying on the SNAP program to make sure my family is fed. I have always been reluctant to tell people this because of the kind of stigma attached. People assume if you take government money you must be some kind of bum who doesn't work and Expects hand outs. But people can judge all the like. I know who i am, how you react to that is your business.
I write this realizing i may sound self promoting. Maybe. But all this drama and controversy has made me feel the need to make my own statement.
If you feel that i am doing the right thing than Thank you! If you feel i deserve support for what I do, Thank you! I will make art as long as i am able. I will share it with anyone who is willing to look, to accept what i create. I trust that if you think i should do this, you will show me and i will use that encouragement to do more, bigger and better. And hopefully with what i share with all of you, hearts will be open and love will be shared.
I love you.