An artist can have a stable life and still make good art.

I was watching the Barbara Walters interviews after the Oscars last night and she was giving Anne Hathaway a hard time or just kept talking about how her parents were still together, how she had a loving family, and then saying things like, “it doesn’t seem like the right drama for an actor…where’s the angst, where’s the pain?”  Hathaway feels the need then to sortof defend her luck, saying that there were certainly bad things that were in her life too…. that she isn’t just a good girl… that she is really “debaucherous” sometimes.

Oliver and I have had this discussion many a time about how there is this huge cultural stigma, even within artist communities, that says you must suffer in order to make good work.  I just don’t think it is true.  And somebody’s got to start saying it.

Last week I was watching a video from the group W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) when they took part in the Democracy in America show put on by Creative Time last fall.  The second speaker, K8 Hardy, addressed this idea.  She pointed out that the collectors in the art market like that artists are poor, and how this feeds into this whole system.  “They want to keep us on the edge because they stupidly think that it makes the work more interesting…. They want us to die poor.  That would make their collection more valuable… They romanticize our poverty and outsider status from some misinformed idea or opinion that it makes an artist better to suffer.”

Democracy in America: W.A.G.E. from Creative Time on Vimeo.

So let’s start talking about it. Let’s try to banish this stereotype.  Sure, some art is good and comes from suffering.  But that does not mean that it is the only way that good art comes about.