Artist’s Role Today: A Song About Community
By Linda Vonderschmidt-La Stella
Several weeks ago I received a flurry of frantic e-mails from Abby Brooks—the daughter of Amy, my partner in the Metuchen Artisans Alliance—asking me to become the subject of her 5th grade “Interview an Artist” assignment. Her first choice had “stood her up”, and her mom suggested, “maybe Linda could do this on short notice.” Abby, with 12-year old directness and the organized clarity she undoubtedly inherited from her mom, sent me a pretty comprehensive set of questions: clearly, this girl wanted lots of answers!
In addition to questions about more personal things: family, background, education, etc…she wanted to know what I considered my “greatest artistic accomplishment”. Hmmmm. There’s one that would take some considering…and while I’ve done “this” and “that”, to name any one of them a “greatest achievement” seemed more than a bit much.
Then, I thought of the Junebug.
Now, one tenant I do hold about art-making is that in the creation of any notable work of art, the artist taps into something deep and primal and through skill and openness midwifes the creation into being. And that, I believe, was very much the case with Metuchen’s ArtFest. And what sets it apart from nearly every other piece of art I have “helped” to create is the level of collaboration, the amount of creative energy, the number of people in so many art forms who are actively engaged in this “work of art”, from planning to presenting to assisting. It is a work that touches hearts, touches emotions, generates palpable electricity and calls the hundreds, maybe thousands involved over the entire month, not only to interact with those for whom their art is their profession and livelihood, but to touch their own creative center.
Yes, I do rate Junebug as definitely “achievement-worthy”, but only when viewed as collaboration…for while there is always room for the solitary and brilliant artist laboring alone in her studio, I believe today more than ever, we need an artistic vision that includes a collaborative process. One that invites others into the making process, one that helps everyone recognize their own spirit of creativity.
Questions make us think. Abby wanted answers.
I’m really glad I got to be the one to whom she asked the questions….Hope you got a good grade, Abby!