Editor’s Note Sept ’20: On Being More Radical

Green sprouts coming up from soil with visible roots

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the word “radical.” We are six months into safer-at-home mandates and miniscule groups of people (can you really call 3 people “a group”?). The performing arts world is shu/attered; other kinds of arts are reeling, too, because of lack of money/time/resources/audiences.

The term “radical”, it turns out, has many definitions, but two distinct connotations. The first is Root or Foundation. The second is Extreme or Revolutionary.

In this time and space of Not Like It Was, how can we as artists or arts supporters be more radical?

Perhaps you want to approach radical from the first meaning. That could be deepening the basic skills of your art practice: starting a morning pages routine, sketching faces over and over, or reading a lot of plays by playwrights you don’t normally experience.

You could also learn some of the fundamentals of the business side of arts. Reading a marketing book, getting a separate bookkeeping organization set up for your art, or networking online with other artists in your field would all yield positive returns After.

Or there’s the simple-not-easy idea of just making A LOT of your art. We all know the story of pottery students who made a ton of pots wound up making better art than the students who instead tries to make One Best Pot. Maybe you commit to making a new “thing” (poem, song, jewelry, papercraft, monologue) every day.* What might you discover about your art with that kind of bulk? You might become more efficient. Or wind up with a new style, or incorporating new materials.

The more common connotation of radical these days is Revolutionary. Maybe that resonates more for you. How could you reform your own practice?

You could use this time to learn a new art. Or find a new audience for your work. Maybe you think about what radical transparency looks like: in how you work, in how you price your work for sale, in how you ask for donations/patronage. Maybe it’s working with people practicing a different art, or in a different field altogether, to produce something completely new.

While I like all of the questions in our Q&A series, my favorite is current experiments. I love learning about how these artists are expanding their own knowledge and practice.

How are you being radical these days? Share your ideas below and inspire someone else!

*Let me know if you need an accountability partner for this! If there are enough of us, we’ll start a small group!

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