Food in the midst of famine. Where does it come from? Who gets to have it? Who might be willing to share?
And where’s the famine? Here we are in the land of plenty. Seems like there’s more talk of obesity than famine. And yet, there’s also a pervasive sense of limited resources; certainly there are hungry people in our community, and plenty of doubt about the economy and the job situation.
I recently started a Meetup Group called “The Well-fed Artist,” and the theme for our first meeting is “Food in the Midst of Famine.” How’s that for putting it out there? In all my life up to this point, I’ve never known so many artists. None of them are literally starving—at least to my knowledge—but a lot of them are hungry. Hungry for success, for acknowledgement, for a way to do what they do and get paid for doing it, for money to pay the rent, for time and space and resources to make their art, for a sense of security, and for encouragement and inspiration.
In all my life up to this point, I don’t remember ever hearing such a consistent litany about the perils of our current economic situation. So why, at this point, should we talk about the well-fed artist? Shouldn’t we move on to more practical things, like jobs and politics and tightening our belts? Maybe; maybe not. In the midst of all the gloom and doom, it’s artists who tell it like it is, and also get really creative about new possibilities. It’s artists who help us see the world and ourselves in new light. It’s artists who help us tap into the stuff we know, but don’t know that we know. It’s artists who express the feelings we’re not quite ready to admit to. It’s artists who show us the best and the worst in us and in our world. It’s artists who remind us that “man can not live by bread alone.” Artists are necessary to our well being, and they should be well-fed. That’s why I think we should talk about the well-fed artist.
So, what does it mean to be a well-fed artist? As a starting point, I’d say that the well-fed artist has food on the table, clothing and shelter, and time and space and resources for making art. Easily said, not always so easily created. Thus, the meetup group. We’ll tell it like it is and like it could be. We’ll share ideas and information, food and nourishment. We’ll look at the complications and obstacles to being well-fed. Could it be that Tom Robbins was right when he said, “Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality.”?*