I'm not the Immortal Artist. You are
Immortal Artist is dedicated to exploring all aspects of experimental art and creating new and innovative techniques which other artists can use to strengthen their own work.
The blogs creator, experimental artist Grey Cross pursues and discusses art across a wide spectrum of artistic mediums. They include painting, sculpting, body art, digital art, and photography. With an emphasis on teaching artists to utilize today's social networks to further their own art and reputations.
This blog uses the Living Blog concept, an idea created by Grey Cross
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Monday, April 25, 2016
As an Artist Do I Have the Right to Refuse my Work to Someone I Disagree With?
I cannot tell you how much this question has haunted me over the past few years. In fact its bothered me so much that I've totally avoided it as a subject matter for this blog.
Those who know me know that I am a man of ummm many strong opinions, especially regarding the extremists on the so called "Right" of America. My work often attacks head on the issue of extremism both here in the United States and abroad. I refuse religion in any form even while embracing spirituality in every form. I hold nothing against anyone who carries a different belief than I do. But I hold everything against those who would shove those beliefs down the throats of others.
With that said, when Christians such as photographers claim that they have no obligation to be hired to shoot a gay wedding when it goes against their beliefs, I stand appalled first and then chagrined at myself, because if the table were turned and I was asked to photograph something such as a virulently anti-gay pastor telling the world that gays should go to hell, I'd have a hard time not saying HELL NO to them.
So what makes my stand different from theirs? I guess that is the crux of the issue. When I see it that way I am able to stand in the feet of those who turn down a gay wedding, or refuse to sign a marriage certificate.
It is a difficult place for any of us who use our creativity as our livelihood to be. As a business person I have an obligation to serve all regardless of their personal beliefs. As a human with a code of morals I have an obligation to stand for what I feel is right. Its a damned if we do, damned if we don't situation where no answer seems to be the right one.
So where does that leave us? Most would just drop the subject here and hope like hell that they are never placed in a situation where they have to make that decision. But in this world the more we are known for our beliefs the more those beliefs are challenged. If we are not prepared to handle them then we end up in lawsuits and plastered across the headlines. I am speaking to creatives on both sides of the issue, not just for those who think like myself.
I try to place myself in the shoes of some of the greatest artists of time. How would a Picasso or a Da Vinci handle something like this? But all I get back is that each of these artists and many more were their own individuals and would react uniquely to their own era of time. Its hopeless to find the answers in the actions of past masters.
Okay, so what about regulations? Should their be new laws in place to help us handle things like this? The Christians would tell us "yes, we need laws to protect us!" I can't see how new laws will do anything but make things more complex. No matter what one side or the other will be pissed off. If laws are enacted that allow some of us to discriminate then where are we in the end? Eventually everyone is discriminating in some way against someone else.
Doesn't leave us much room for negotiation does it? So in the end it comes back to each of us to stop for a moment and see the situation through the eyes of the other person. But face it, humans aren't too good at self regulating ourselves. Each of our moral codes varies just enough that what is offensive to one may be the mantra of the other.
So how do I, the creative, resolve this moral dilemma?
Many make the suggestion that the best thing a creative person can do is to botch the job so badly that the particular client would never want to come near you again. If your a baker then spit in the cake and use alum instead of baking soda. If your a photographer then make every photo as blurry as you can.
I council that this is absolutely the wrong method. That the best method is to meet the most hateful with love and give them the best damned work that can be created, make it with all the love and care you can put into it. Yes I can hear you "Grey your too soft". But there is a method to my madness. First why would I want to sabotage my own work? Isn't it better to maintain ones professional and personal morals? Doesn't the right claims that the godless have no morals? Aren't we giving into the haters by becoming haters ourselves?
But as I said, there is a method here. I never go silently. My work may be perfection and done with love, but my voice will also be raised against the hate. I have no objections to shouting as loud as I can against the hate. In fact my own personal moral code insists that I do not let it "just pass" and move on. My code suggests that this is an opportunity to perhaps teach the haters something about love and acceptance of all even when you are hated back. Did Jesus not say "turn the other cheek" Or was that Gandhi? Doesn't matter. What matters is there is wisdom and logic in that saying. But it said nothing about not taking the opportunity to teach either.
In the end if we as creatives are also teachers. As much as we may not like it, we have an opportunity here that we are passing up if we just snarl at the haters and refuse to do any work for them. We are just like them and I refuse to stoop to that level.
Its time for us all to grow up. Maybe others will learn if we take the first steps to do so. The alternative is a world of anarchy and thats not a path I wish to walk.
PS - Just a subnote. Where I often write these articles all at one time I really did some soul searching on this one. I honestly had a moral debate with myself for several days regarding resolving this problem personally and determining a course of action for the future. I hope others have this same talk with themselves so that they can be armed for how to handle it if the problem ever arises.