Art Dirt: Artists Don’t Have To Be Do-Gooders

by Glasstire May 6, 2018

In our latest Art Dirt podcast, Rainey Knudson and Christina Rees start out talking about gentrification, but quickly devolve into discussing whether artists really have to be politically engaged in their work.

“People are getting so many props for doing the so-called ‘right thing.’ If a woman artist isn’t making work about being a woman then she’s somehow failing the team, you know? And so if she does make work about being a woman in today’s world, she’s going to get at least short-term attention for doing that. Are the ideas good? Is the work good? It almost doesn’t matter.”

To play the podcast, click on the orange play button below. You can also listen to it here.




Carl M Smith May 6, 2018 - 11:55

awesome, great podcast, thanks for doing it

Cindee Klement May 7, 2018 - 10:38

Artists have just one responsibility to society. That is to make art that is true to themselves. If artists speak from their heart and tell their story, or their art presents their point of view, then who cares what the critics say. That said it is a great feeling when others appreciate your efforts. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

Carl M Smith May 7, 2018 - 11:09

i think the stakes are way higher now for artists that take risks, everything is more expensive and more dire, and there are way less supportive communities of artists that band together and help each other, artists are horrible at solving real problems and contributing to society in a important way, their skill set is individuation, and at best they can inspire others to be empowered to be who they are and make personal creative decisions in their lives.
it is possible we are facing a future without art and most of us would be fine with it, facing the problems the future will have to face, art is what we do when we have the space as humans to do it. GT helps a lot, but we need more people writing honestly about good and bad art imo. when do we give up on art altogether? I think we may see more of this, and it’s amazing artists have gotten away with so much for so long, I mean those sci-fi dystopian future movies don’t ever have real art in it.

we are not in a culture that supports individuation, and hopefully we can swing back to a real balance of groupthink vs individual thinking

carolyn June 28, 2018 - 22:25

I think this is my favorite of the Art Dirt podcasts I’ve had a chance to listen to.
A couple of notes I’d add:
1. It wasn’t so long ago that, at least locally in Dallas, evincing political concerns in one’s art was more likely to hurt than help one’s career.
2. It’s well understood among some of us that many powers that be are just fine with and often even supportive of certain kinds of social practice or otherwise seemingly activist art, so long as it’s mostly about making people feel better – sometimes even providing a relatively low-cost substitute for social services a good government should provide – without actually threatening the interests or hegemony of the powers that be.


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