(detail image of a collaborative project by me and Annelie McKenzie as part of the larger Los Angeles Interior Forest exhibition, a project we are fundraising to continue in Paris, currently on kickstarter.)
I got my first taste of what spending power felt like when I was twelve, delivering newspapers once a week. That thirty dollars a month gave me the chance to spend on my own terms and I quickly started buying the things I didn’t dare ask my parents for, those seemingly non essential items like music, fashion, or books. Even then, I felt the power my dollar held and I carefully weighed my options, not only because of cost, but because of what I would later consider to be a kind of political action.
While the politics of my spending habits as a child were intuitive, it wasn’t until college that I really acknowledged, at a conscious political level, that I wanted to support local small businesses whenever possible, that I wanted to give my money to people I knew and respected before unknown branded entities. Today, this has become an understood and recognized position and there are even new apps springing up that offer help to funnel your money to individuals, businesses, and organizations with similar values.
Besides politics, college helped me to recognize what I already intuitively understood about the value of art and culture to my quality of life. What I had previously considered non essential items, the cultural products I consumed, were actually of incredible value. These days the essential value of arts and culture are hard to dispute. In a speech delivered in 2009, Michelle Obama reminded us, even in a time of widespread financial difficulty, “the arts aren't somehow an 'extra’ part of our national life, but instead…are at the heart of our national life. It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future. Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not. They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways…..It's through this constant exchange -- this process of taking and giving, this process of borrowing and creating -- that we learn from each other and we inspire each other. It is a form of diplomacy in which we can all take part….” (link to latimes article on speech here.)
Working as an artist, now more than ever, I appreciate when folks express their support of the arts, not only in words, but also with action. Now with sites like kickstarter, it is easier than ever to directly support artists and cultural producers across the world with just the click of a mouse. Individuals can budget their own level of support, and when everyone gets together to back a project, $10 can become thousands. Regardless of whether a project is funded or not, the artists and cultural producers behind it can feel the support you have given and the value of that support can function to sustain future production in ways the have an impact larger than any amount of money.
That said, I’d like to thank my own newest kickstarter backers: Margaret Baune and Alexandra Grant. Whatever happens with my own project's fundraising, your support is palpable and greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!