Solitude and Community
"True solidarity is only possible among the solitary" - Jose Bergamin
I love the symmetry in a paradox. An artist has to spend considerable amounts of time alone. It is an individual search and practice. And yet, we know great works happens in groups of artists. Excellence in art comes not just from a single talent, but from pockets of culture where artists exchange and work off each other.
We are shaped by the artists that we spend time with. We can work with and respond to great artists work, but it is really taken to a new level when we are working with groups of real people in real life. For example- Everyone in one group of friends that I spent alot of time with after high school was a huge Bob Dylan fan. We listened to everything he had put out together. We painted with Bob Dylan on. We made food to Bob Dylan. I had a book of his lyrics that I poured over. We searched for patterns in his work. We did that together, but it always came down to the time we spent apart, working alone to try to touch that same place that the songs had touched us, that we made soemthing new to share with each other. And then, when we compared , wewould find that our work had more similarities to each others work than to the “masters” we were loving together. Bob Dylan wasn’t the only artist we did that with, and that wasn’t the only group I have had that kind of magic with.
There have been hot spots in my life that have brought out my favorite work, but it is less about the place that I was and more about the artists I was lucky enough to spend time with.
I don’t think there is any replacement for the people that you get together with and see in person for artistic growth. Make dinner, share ideas, grow together. I do alsothink the groups of artists that we can connect with online can also be wonderfully inspiring and provide that same kind of back and forth that can bring great work out of a group of people. Put work out there. Engage with other people who are putting out work.
A conscious effort to share more with each other and celebrate the “scenes” that we are lucky to be a part of in person and online will make that time when we go to spend by ourselves much more rewarding.