Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Clichés Are All the Rage

While back in Missouri, I considered looking-up a few friends but never put forth the effort to track them down. Suddenly, this morning I am back in New Mexico, typing on the laptop while looking at my mountain out the kitchen window. Now that I’m gone I’m thinking of the friends I left back east, without as much as a hello. I’m also reconsidering the size of the world that I once thought to be immense and now seem easily within reach with the only requirement being a day’s drive or passport and flight.

On the return drive across Texas to the New Mexico border, my wife mentioned friends we have living in Israel and I wondered how they felt about the United States and France “hammering-out” a peace deal, while they’re the ones living with the constant threat of annihilation via the religion of peace. The news reported the other morning that “everyone” would now be required to remove their shoes for inspection prior to boarding a plane. I’ve always laughed at the ridiculous questions one has to answer when checking luggage at the airport. Questions such as: Are you carrying firearms? Did anyone give you a package to carry? But sometimes I wonder if we need to add one: Are you Muslim? I hate the idea of profiling, but there comes a point when political correctness seems absurd. Then again, I don’t want my Hindu friend getting mistreated because the $7/hr airport screener was too ignorant to recognize the obvious differences between an Indian and an Arab or even a sari and a burqa. My generation is globally dominant over previous generations in the areas of information and finance. We expect to travel both domestic and internationally as easily as we communicate. Yet events such as the recent airline terrorist threat in London interrupt our self-imposed advancements - so where does this leave us? Do we let the terrorist win by strip searching 80-year-old women or do we damage our own values by profiling Muslims?

I’ve always been interested in labels, profiling and other generalized uses of stereotypes. How much of being an artist is living up to the hype of the artist stereotype and how much is real? How often to we profile or judge a known artist when we look at the way they live their non-art existence? Is there such a thing as a non-art life for a professional artist? Another Blogger, that I read, is a part-time-professional artist with a great day job, but she is currently considering a career-change. Now here is the hard part - is she an artist with a great day-job or just a respectable college administrator? Can she be both? Being a professional in any field includes a lot of after-hours work, meetings, etc. So does making artwork; but does the fact that she “is an artist” interfere with her ability to have a “normal career” life without the wrath of judgment from the art world – if she still wants to make art (which she does). At what point does the artist live the stereotype and what point is the artist simply living for the stereotype? Who is more at fault for perpetuating the idea of the vagabond artist – society or artists? Who is more judgmental of artists’ lives – society or fellow artists? – DN

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