“Most of us deep down believe that a person who is creative will prevail regardless of the environment,” Csikszentmihalyi wrote. “But the reality appears to be different…. No matter how gifted a person is, he or she has no chance to achieve anything creative unless the right conditions are provided by the field.” Csikszentmihalyi identifies “seven major elements in the social milieu that help make creative contributions possible: training, expectations, resources, recognition, hope, opportunity, and reward. Some of these are direct responsibilities of the field, others depend on the broader social system.”
In the latest issue of Art Practical, Christine Wong Yap, artist and regular contributor to the online art magazine wrote a feature titled Should I Stay or Should I go? I know, I know. If you’re into The Clash (yes, I am), you probably have the song stuck in your head right about now but how aptly related to the topic at hand. Her piece addresses the physical moves Bay Area artists (San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley) have made to advance their art practices and career (to places such as New York and Prague). She provides the reader a greater understanding when it comes to the transient nature of the artist. Trust me, the majority of artists love travel and experiencing different places but it’s safe to assume that there’s a desire for stability in such a fast paced, evolving, and globalized economy. However, as clearly stated by the artists interviewed for Ms. Wong Yap’s piece, they must move where the opportunities are present.
Being a San Francisco native, I was particularly interested in reading about artists who have such a profound connection and foundation in the Bay Area. Their thoughts on making it in the art world as well as their particular reasons to move away from a place they call home forces me to explore my own aspirations. As much as I don’t want to label myself, I am an outsider when it comes to the art world. An independent scholar. I’m fervently dedicated to personal studies in Art and it goes without saying, being in San Francisco, the community is quite nurturing for the endeavors I hope to take in the next year or two (i.e., graduate studies) but I can’t help but think some opportunity in the future is somewhere else, which scares me a bit. Overall, the feature certainly has me thinking much more optimistically but realisitically about the Bay Area Art scene.
I know, wherever I find myself in the future, I would take San Francisco with me. It would be pretty impossible to leave it behind.
If you enjoy this topic, you may also be interested in Michael Zheng’s work, The Profession Project.
Oh, and, well, I couldn’t resist!