In this post, Michael Rhynes discusses what he sees as the current role and responsibilities of the artist.


As artists have we forgotten what our purpose is? By no means are we in this world to starve. But when we chase after celebrity, we chase our own tails for the pleasure of those who wish to purchase our souls and disregard our art.

How do we value our art? Is thirty pieces of silver ever enough? In order to quantify our art we need to determine where it belongs. Does it belong in the vaults of private collectors or in the boardrooms of corporations? Does our art belong in the catacombs of the rich museums? Does our art belong behind the pulpit or above it?

Our art should be carried in the hearts and minds of the people–all the people.   When our duly elected officials–prime ministers, presidents–or other leaders– kings, queens, religious leaders and the fourth estate–won’t tell us the truth, then our artists should.

We the artists existed before reporters, anchormen and women, before technology. We existed before governments; we stood between the monarchies and the people. It was us who dared to laugh at kings on pain of death. The child who dared to point out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes grew up to be an artist.

When the noisiness of violence is erupting all around us and there is no one to protect and serve, we should be able to conjure up the lyrics of life from our souls, offering up our only protection: “What’s going on?”

When the tyranny of everyday life has beaten us down and when our days are at their darkest–it is the art in our souls and the songs in our hearts that will carry the day. Imagine if all the people were not acting as separate biological communities known as races.

Separate races of human beings are a fiction created by those who would keep us in competition for limited resources. Why is state sanctioned violence never limited but love is?   Love is not a limited resource; its abundance is everywhere. We as a species should tear down the artificial barriers of race, creed, class and gender and cultivate love. Let’s take actors for example. Actors no longer offer us ways to challenge the notion that the world is flat. Hollywood has taught us that one face exists in the world and if we board ships in search of diversity we’ll fall off the face of the earth.

We artists should take to the streets, erasing police graffiti of chalked bodies and create the world from our beautiful imaginations. Instead of bullets and despair we should offer change. Artists are children of the rainbow. Only through the color of our collective imaginations can we stem the tides of despair in the world.

Imagine if all the artists went on strike. The world would come to a halt.