So Much for Empowerment

At the End of the Day, 2015 An Acrylic Painting by Artist Bill Rangel
At the End of the Day, 2015
48"W x 32"H acrylic on masonite

John Waters recently said in a graduation commencement speech that the outsider approach to art is no longer viable–if you're not everywhere you're a loser. And that’s funny coming from a guy whose work is about outsiders, but apparently, it’s true.

Ultimately everyone wants to be recognized or accepted, including me, but Waters’ statement reminded me of when Mitt Romney said, "corporations are people.” Of course what he meant was that people run companies, but it was his way of putting a face on a corporate entity–because if it has a face, it must be empathetic, right? No.

Which brings me to this image; more and more, artists today adhere to a corporate mindset, or become "the face" of capitalism. Many of them have their retail shops set up online, and their personas and messages to their followers emanate from bright handheld screens, in a race to fulfill some nebulous “dream.” And no one cares about it, in fact, many find it empowering.

But as Milton Resnick said, "You're not very original if you want to be an individual.” And what he meant was that if an artist’s work is in service of the artist, then he or she is just like everyone else, clamoring for attention.

Social media encourages collective individuality, and it levels the playing field in many ways, giving artists equal access to tools to showcase their work. But what it boils down to is business, and those who are good at it will rise to the top.

Recently, Yoko Ono publicly lamented about the younger generation’s apathetic approach to art and pointed out their lack of activism. And she’s right; artists are busy setting up shop and not putting their asses on the line because that’s considered old school. The new school is money, period.

But even though individuals post their artwork on social media, the bottom line is, that, in posting them, you surrender your rights to the faceless corporate types who milk the website they own for all its worth. So much for empowerment.

Popular Posts