a.k.a. sarrah kaliski


a.k.a. sarrah

The artist responsibility


This is a belief of mine. My goal here is to express it to the best of my limited ability. Please hear me out and think. That's all I ask: think. As artists we have a level of responsibility to our audience, no matter the size of it. The responsibility lies on an unstable balance, and a line that is blurred, sometimes erased.

We are all a broken people, no matter what kind of life you've lived, each of us have our own scars.

An artist, no matter their medium, is able to take art to show the beauty in the scars and the unscarred. To take something destroyed and reveal the beauty, to take something beautiful and show the ugly, to take the perfect and show the glory of it. However, we can get caught up in it and if we glorify those scars too much or even glorify the unscarred too much it can lead people down paths of accepting things that should never be accepted. This is the balance, the line I mentioned, this is our responsibility.

For example: to glorify a serial killer in a story could lead someone to relate and believe it's a life for them, that life of others are not fellow humans but things to an end. To glorify perfection to a level where people feel that they could never meet that level of perfection and despise themselves to a point of self harm has the same destruction. I suppose it's what the internet so flippantly calls: triggers.

Yet, this is the balancing act that troubles me: people need raw, they need truth, they need courage, as do I. To hide ourselves from it all only stifles, to lie about the truth brings harm.

Where do we allow for creative license and where have we gone too far? To use the excuse that it is for the art and that lets us do whatever to make people see, feel, experience something is not a good enough excuse. And if you feel like you need to make an excuse for your work, stop and consider why. Yet, it is the ability to create something can make people see, feel, experience something that makes art world-changing, history-molding.

The line is blurred, the balance is shaky, this is where I believe that is our jobs of artists to always have our eyes and hearts open to the messages we are giving. In Spider-Man's comics it is stated: "with great power there must also come -- great responsibility." (from Amazing Fantasy #15 - the first Spider-Man story 1962. Though I do believe others before have said something like this too, I like this one best.)

Side note: look to the great artists of our superheros, they change and shaped generations with their work, giving hope and empowerment to thousands during dark and bleak times.

Even after I write this, I still wonder at the line and balance in my own work. I am fasinated by life and death, how frail we are alive and how final death is, how we fear death yet some want it too soon. Yet in my work I don't want to glorify death, there's nothing romantic about it, even though it can feel there is sometimes in a poetic way. But life is the poem and is precious beyond words or expression, and I also want to show that. I realise a lot of it is me trying to understand, express, accept this crazy life we live. And that's the thing, a lot of an artists work may be a discovery and path to understanding, an expression of them, and their way of communication, so this is where we have to decide what to share and what to keep for ourselves.

I try to remember that though I may at times feel like my voice as an artist is small in comparison to those I aspire to, it is still very much a voice and there are ears that hear me. It is my responsibility to remember and act accordingly.

So if I write about life and death, may the reader come away with loving life more than before, may their hope and dreams be renewed, and hopefully never see death as an answer or option.

Ultimately we do know deep down inside. And if you feel like you've lost your balance and that the line was erased long ago, find one moment from your memories that is pure. Even it was how the grass moved in the wind, or a song that moved you, a smile, a poem, it can be anything and focus on that until you can see a hazy line forming, the balance less shaky. And being honest, at times I am shaken, blurred by the world around me. The chaos of it all makes me forget the simplicity of just creating to bring good.

We were born to separate the word impossible to I'm possible and to have others believe they are too. This world that glorifies darkness and stupidity needs to hear the voice of artists all around that it's time for a change, an awakening, to do better, be better, that nothing is impossible if we just keep our eyes open and heart seeing. Artists are the voice that may feel unheard but everyone is listening to. So what do you want to say? How do you want to effect the affected?

Image credits:

Photography museam: Adrianna Calvo

Spider-Man comic: Amazing Fantasy #15