Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Aesthetic Economy

Aesthetics and economics are inextricably linked. According to current research by Americans for the Arts, $166 billion is generated annually through arts and cultural activity. Film, theater, museum going, dance, all of the things most of us like to participate in given time. We are already living in an an aesthetic economy.

But, if art and culture are already so entrenched, why is a career in an arts related industry considered, well, not the favorite choice of a parent of a teenager? Being the mother of a 16 year old, I am particularly sensitive to how this unfolds. My son is in no danger of such a decision, at least not at this point. His aptitude is strong in math and science and I suspect he will go after a more ‘solid’ career choice. But I am an artist! Why do I have that less than arts supportive attitude? There two streams of thought at work here. One, the most obvious in my mind is my sons aptitude and interests. His father has a Ph.D in botany and writes school curriculum in the sciences. I, on the other hand, am an artist and so he has been raised with both ends of that particular spectrum. I would never try and influence his decision making process although exposing him to possibilities certainly ranks as part of my job description. The second thought stream here is that it IS a difficult career choice and part of me is relieved he isn’t, at this point, taking that tougher road.

That said, I am interested in the evolution of art as a viable means of making a living and of its healing power in society; economically as well as spiritually. I believe art has the capacity and may well be the exact remedy to many of the ills of our day. I continue to watch the Occupy movement gain speed. I agree with many that we are at a pivotal, if not volatile moment, again, in our history. There are many ways this story can continue to unfold. Egypt and Wisconsin, unlikely revolutionary partners, yet both communities stand at the beginning of this new wrinkle in the everlasting human uprising. Today, Egypt is struggling to turn over the rule of their nation to the civilian population because the former regime destroyed the institutions that would make that possible. The Old Order Stifles the Birth of New Egypt.

Pepper Sprayed Seurat
Occupy Wall Street is an opportunity to continue a long road that rests, putters, is stifled but never dies. It is the cry of freedom. It is the need of people to feel they, we, I have a voice. There is much to concern myself with today. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I we have much to do. But, in the wrinkles of time in our day, remember that art is there. To inspire. To guide. And to fully participate in the re-evolution of the human spirit. A revitalizing force, guided by beauty, it can and will help define the new era dawning.

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