With all the buzz lately about freedom of speech it has inspired me to tackle this complicated subject. It’s very dear to me, mostly because I am not just a writer, I am an artist. I am also an art historian.
Artists and their cousins, writers, create from within their cultures, their backgrounds and circumstances. Their expression comes, necessarily, from what they live, what they think and what they feel. They are the barometer of a society’s health. Artists are frequently free thinkers, rebels even. It takes a lot of courage to take what you feel and put it in the public eye. It takes a lot of self-honesty to get those feelings out on canvas, paper, sculpture in a way that works… an artist must always be aware of self-censorship, because that stifles creativity. Being self-aware also makes one more sensitive to the environment one lives in… is it any mystery that artists are usually the first ones to see and express that which is anathema to them?
Art is often understood as a comment upon, or a reflection upon our society. As observers, artists are capable of showing us a mirror of our own actions, beliefs, or political systems. Directly engaged with aesthetics, they are also capable of influencing the way we see our surroundings, or challenging the beliefs of their predecessors. link
Paris, 26 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Censorship is the first weapon of tyrants. It is the first weapon of the fearful and close-minded, and the control freaks. Art can convey uncomfortable truths, unspoken truths. It’s not always the intention of an artist to bring to the forefront of society those things that need addressing, but sometimes that’s exactly what the intention is. My inner conviction is that this is a necessary role in our society. Awareness is a process that doesn’t just happen individually, but collectively as well. We need each other, and we need each others talents whether that is; fixing a dishwasher, repairing a road, handling finances, raising children or expressing beauty, truth, conflict and ugliness through art. We need each other, as a social species, as human beings… and the gifts we bring should never be stifled, outlawed or censored. We are all diminished when we allow this to happen.
I am not normally a rude person, nor do I try to offend others intentionally, but sometimes to truly be authentic – to speak my truth or paint my truth, rudeness or offence happens. I can’t do anything about how another takes my work, and I can’t censor myself to try to please everyone, or I might as well just stop speaking, writing and painting altogether.
I am all for personal kindness, understanding and tolerance, but never at the expense of truth, or freedom of expression.
What do you think?