A few weeks ago I agreed to be one of 24 artists who each painted one letter of "Canadian Artists for the Poor". You can see the beginning and end of my letter-making process here.
And on the CAP website, all the letters together.
This was a fun project which got me out of my usual studio routine to do something different. It also appealed to my sense of altruism: not only do the funds raised by CAP go towards helping people in impoverished countries, but also, in the auctioning of the letters my "E" may wind up in the possession of someone who could not afford one of my larger, more involved paintings*.
The letters are being auctioned off at CAP's facebook page, and here is my "E". Bids are ongoing until September 7, 2013, when each letter will find its home with the highest bidder.
*There is a lot of information out there regarding "giving art away", most of it cautioning against donating one's work because it is not a good way to gain exposure, that the donated work is in fact devalued by being sold for often a lower price than it ought, to people who do not understand its value and who will then undervalue other work of a similar nature, thus hurting the whole arts industry.
Here are some of my thoughts:
In primitive societies everyone eats when there is just enough to go round. When there is a surplus, people starve. This is because when there is a surplus people begin to hoard.
The fact that we have surplus allows us to do things like make art, since through hoarding our physical survival is ensured. We make art and we give it a value, which enables us to continue to ensure our survival, and a cycle is created. Within this framework, donating our work devalues it, thus undermining the cycle, which must be preserved so that we can continue to make art.
But what if one looks at the world from the point of view that there is enough to go round?
I suppose that idea could eventually lead to the capitalism vs. communism argument, neither one of which works very well when taken to extremes, as past and present examples demonstrate.
I think perhaps we make assumptions about human nature. It's a conundrum, isn't it.
How about this:
I do not donate my work for the purpose of gaining exposure, nor would I encourage any artist to do so. I do donate work, very occasionally, to fundraising events which support my own values.
When donating to this type of event, I hope that my work will end up in the possession of someone who cherishes it, whether or not they are aware of its monetary worth. I also hope that the sale of my work will bring in more rather than less dollars, and to that end I try to promote the fundraising events to which I donate work.
I want to live my life through love, not fear. I want look at this world as a place of plenty, not scarcity.
Perhaps because I've recently been reading about the philosophies of Milton Glaser, among others, I've been examining my own view of the world and thinking I could improve on some points.