Friday Arts Day:  with Jay McNeill

Local Art Is a Tribal Insignia

imagesI have been a paid artist in one way or another since I was sixteen. I have a love/hate relationship with creativity because there is always creative compromise when it is commercialised. Many artists are torn from their core expression as they try and figure out how to stay true to the form but also pay those pesky bills. Only in the last one hundred years or so has it been possible to have a global reach. Now you can produce a song or other art form and publish online within an instant. Your material can float around in digital heaven aimlessly waiting for a cosmic click from a customer on the other side of the planet. Amazing really and very intoxicating!

But what if art was really meant to be about smaller circles and not just one big global circle? If you are an artist, one hundred or more friends share your immediate community. Within that community you share your successes, failures, thoughts, priorities, preferences, political and spiritual views and more. Imagine the harmony an artist can create if they invest into those friends by articulating what that community experiences together and represents it as art? Artists who think about smaller circles have the potential to articulate their own community’s fears and dreams in a way that leaves a stamp on the hearts of those closest. Art articulates thoughts that cannot be expressed. It fills the vacant sigh with substance; it brings light to dark alleys and puts punctuation on feelings.

TV reality shows and the promise of fame seduce the artist away from being the voice of their tribe. As the world gets more fragmented and virtual, artists more than ever can bring significance and identity to small pockets of people. People are better when grounded as a collective. Unique stories, visual art and song are the relational glue that offers the potential of tribal identity. This is what artists originally did many years ago; they gave their small village a brand and an identity. In the last one hundred years we have lost that unique voice as artists chase the sonic humdrum aimed at the global village but the art gets homogenised down to the lowest common denominator. Local art can have a branding iron effect by stamping originality on the hearts of small communities by saying, “We are the ‘such and such’ clan, this is our story and we are and we are proud of it!”


So if you are an artist I encourage you to forget the TV reality shows or the illusive chase of a record deal and think about what your art can do to your circle of friends by amplifying the voice of your own tribe.

It is a noble way to express what gifts you have and you are more likely to stay true to your art form.


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Photographic work of Camera with Bunny Ears by Attila Siha

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