Monday, March 08, 2010

Loving Monday: You a Philanthropist?


What if you gave your art away?

This is the question Beckett essentially asks in the chapter "Giving Something Back", though he doesn't necessarily frame it from an art perspective. The subtle implication at the beginning of the chapter is that we need to wait before we can "give back." But by the end, when we see Moses holding a simple stick, we get the sense that the time to give is now. The thing to give is whatever we hold in our hands.

Child on the Dump

I think back to David Sacks. He has given (or sold very cheaply) much of his art to non-governmental organizations... before landing on the cover of an Oprah book-club pick.

At the IAM Encounter Conference, he shared his photography, and his history of giving art away. For Sacks, this opened up opportunities to travel, be creative with fewer restrictions, and ultimately to make money from his art (though that wasn't necessarily his initial goal in giving).

Say You're One of Them

Do we hold our dreams, our small personal wealths, too tightly? What if we gave some of our work, our creative essence away? Would we have enough left over to make a living? What are the risks?

I find a few answers in Sacks, and in Sarah Haliwell's poem too...

don't be worried
there are dreams all over the place
for the hauling up and stacking out
just let it go
the wind will do the hardest work
for you

Photos of NYC and IAM Conference, by L.L. Barkat. Excerpt of Sarah Haliwell's "with faith", used with permission.

Lyla's Loving Monday: Risky Business
Glynn's Loving Monday: The Compassionate Enterprise
HighCallingBlogs What I Hold in My Hands

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Blogger ELK said...

"giving it away" is such a strong and freeing action . elk

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

What if?

Darned good question. Nags me lately.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

There is a giving away in the making -- of the gift, of time and effort and materials, of love of what you do -- and a giving away in releasing what is made. But there is so much more.

A friend who is a painter had a prof at Yale who asked two questions of any student who came to her asking advice about pursuing a career in fine arts:

-- "Can you imagine living your life in uncertainty? Of never knowing if you work is any good, of never really being able to get meaningful feedback from anyone else since you and you alone have to be your own measure of success of failure?

-- "Can you imagine living your life knowing that any any point in time your could read something or see something that would force you to abandon everything you thought you believed?"

Anyone who can answer those questions in the affirmative knows something of what it means to be a philanthropist.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Harold Sikkema said...

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days."
-Ecclesiastes 11

12:05 PM  
Blogger nAncY said...

loving mankind.
is there enough love?

only as much as we give, i suppose.

i know i can use it more than i do.
keeping it burried sometimes, stashed.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

Having my toes stepped on ever so lightly never felt so good. Much, much to ponder in those words. Loved the words from Sarah Haliwell, too.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

This post reminds me of our last two book clubs, The Gift and Make the Impossible Possible. Both were stories about giving back.

It must be something pretty crucial to living right, I think.

Sarah and David give well.

4:21 PM  
Blogger A Simple Country Girl said...

I do. That is all I have ever done. Give it away. I give away what I think is beauty. Whether or not any of my recipients (family, friends...) think it to be art is beyond me. Waiting to become famous never even crossed my mind--why hold captive something that isn't really mine to start with?

I snap photos and sometimes add words. Print it out, frame it up, and hand it away. Little pieces of my heart go along for the ride. And I love it!

As far as philanthropy, I don't know if that is what I am doing. I reckon I don't worry about fancy titles or fitting into someone's definition and/or parameters.

God made the beauty and it is His, all His. Grabbing glimpses of it through my eyes and then snapping pieces into my camera, all before knitting it together and sending it off drenched with His love...that is how I promote God and His beauty, not me.

Did I miss the boat? Is philanthropy a narrow bridge that somehow misses God as the ultimate giver?

How can acts of "voluntary promotion of human welfare" and the "promotion of humankind" (otherwise known as philanthropy) exist without God at the center, top, bottom, sides and middle?

Then again, I am just A Simple Country Girl who doesn't dangle her feet into fancy water...and I am just thinking aloud here.

What are the risks of giving your art away? None. Absolutely none. Once it moves from your heart and hands to someone else, your participation in the gift is essentially done.

Blessings. And thanks for making me think ;-)

7:57 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Oh gosh, another mention! Thank you :-) You give me a gift, leaving little bits of my poems around for me to find like crumbs on the way home.

I sell my writing because that makes it "proper", which I long for it to be - but I sell it as cheaply as I can, in an understated way, not pretty at all, because I'm not doing it to make my living from it. It is my living, just the doing of it. It is my thing that I can give.

Each poem I write holds my wish for the reader in it, one way or the other. So they are written to be read. To be given. Straight from me, onto plain paper and posted down the road, to you.

Perhaps I have this attitude because I was told repeatedly from childhood that I'd never make a living from being a writer. So that's not my goal. And with complete honesty I must say, feedback from readers is more valuable to me than any amount of money.

2:29 AM  
Blogger SUNRISE SISTER said...

I LOVE the question. I even charged my sis for a painting - I needed the endorsement of worth so badly. If I'd given it to her, she would've be obligated to hang it, when she asked to actually purchase it from a gallery wall (where I awaited strangers to validate my work) I was so moved........but I still made her pay:) We are odd creatures aren't we - needing the validation and I love the ideas put forth in your post and in your commenters - gifting something of ourselves is a valuable gift, isn't it?

9:38 PM  

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