Use art for purpose, not fame

By BenitaZepeda

It’s not every day we have moments of pure inspiration.In creative fields, artists sometimes lose motivation, especially in an art school where their work is constantly criticized.

It’s easy to be stuck in a mindset full of self-doubt, which is not just common to artists—it defines our generation. Our world revolves around a technology-driven and fast-paced way of life, which is entirely different from the one our parents grew up in. This directly affects our art.

When Patti Smith spoke at Columbia on Nov. 30, she made a valid point about being a young adult and artist in this generation. She said we are in transition, that we are growing up in times much more difficult than when she grew up, and that technology has caused a shift in what separates quality art from trends.

Smith explained the Internet allows for so many people to become celebrities, to reach large audiences using social networking. For individuals who attend places such as Columbia, this definitely has its benefits. The Internet gives us a platform to display our work to the world.

However, it also draws attention to individuals who are gaining notoriety because they follow trends. These people, the reality-television-stars-turned pop singers or viral YouTube video sensations, overshadow people who make real art.

Although it is difficult to define what “real art” is, people need to get back to the time when art was used to evoke serious, long-term thoughts and feelings. In the ‘70s, art was heavily used for change and as protest. Nowadays, it’s rare for political art to get as much attention as celebrity entertainment news.

This is disheartening for the artist who is trying to do serious work. Sometimes it even destroys one’s motivation. But on the other hand, some “artists,” don’t put the hard work into what they are

doing, anyway. This turn of events can be a bit confusing. Should artists exploit current trends just so they can get their name out to showcase their art, or should they stay true to their ideals even though it might not lead to instant success? I say, the latter.

Making work that speaks to a generation or culture is far more important than being the next lip-synching viral video star. This should inspire people to create something worthwhile and not be a disposable,

trendy artist.

Art with meaning is something that can last forever. Fame and celebrity antics are fleeting and many times are forgotten as soon as the trend subsides, but something with a powerful and real message will live on far after the artist is gone.  Smith said to us during an interview, “The people have the power,” and it’s absolutely true.