My Job is to Make People Care

It is. My job is to make people care. I read this in tweet form from artist, Erik Otto, yesterday. I haven't read truer words in some time. It seems that from a social standpoint, a political standpoint, and a fiscal standpoint, we are just thrown curveball after curveball these days. It's painful at times for me, personally, and certainly painful for friends and family. I think that it is impossible for me to watch people in pain and not to feel it myself.

When you feel enough pain you become traumatized. You shut down. You stop feeling. This is the basic premise of post traumatic stress disorder. It is a fight to overcome this. Often it takes counseling, medication, or difficult changes that only an intense sense of devotion or willpower will allow.

It seems, however, that we, I'm speaking of citizens within the USA here, hide our need to overcome this trauma and our empathy for others trauma behind anger. Anger, to me, is fear. We become angry to protect ourselves against the fear that we will fall further and further into the recesses of financial or social doom. Yesterday, I was in a fender bender in a parking lot and my initial thought was how much extra work it would take if I had to pay my deductible to my insurance. This seems wrong.

And so I return to my initial statement, "my job is to make people care." I am an art maker. Art is in outward expression of feelings. It is impossible to make something that doesn't hold within it some level of feeling. I have been guilty of hiding behind emotions which are viewed in a more positive light before. I went through a long period of art making where I tried to spread the happiness but inside all I felt was emptiness because the woman that I thought loved me and would be my wife was gone, leaving me utterly alone and confused. I've tried to think deeply, spreading wisdom as if it was something that might help others, but really it is only pondering that may help me; thoughts that help me get by, plays on words that keep me amused and involved.

There is the fear that if you write, draw or make something that is rooted within your actual feelings that that thing will become too derivative or cliche. But now I ask myself, how can I make people care if I am too scared to actually show what I care about? I can tell you one thing. I don't care what the art world thinks of me any more. I want to make something interesting that people will see and like, but it is more about the idea of being happy about a thing that I've created, releasing whatever emotion that I need to release and feeling some level of solidarity with humanity because they see the work and understand to some extent where I am coming from.

With this desire to be more honest, I realize more intensely what the translation of raw emotion in the visual jazz series is about. The jumble, the randomness all makes sense. They are an illustration of fear, joy, acceptance, and awe. Music, to me, has always been a motivator and a friend. Within sound I've found a companion. The visual jazz series is a direct descendent of this companion, a portrait if you will.

I have begun to tackle pieces of music that feel more personal to me. This year, Chris Cornell passed away. As a teenager, Soundgarden, and in particular, the "Superunknown" album were pivotal in me getting through. As such I've begun a large scale visual melody translation of the album. It is a painful process. Cornell was something of an idol to me as a teenager and seeing him succumb to the pressures of this unsupportive world is anything but motivating, but dwelling within that pain that I am experiencing feels cathartic, albeit a bit disorienting.

My job is to make people care though, and in order to do that I need to show people that I care too.

Peace,
Mike