Gentry Avenue Article: An Artist’s Purpose

An Artist’s Purpose: Beginning With The End In Mind

By George Mahn, III

A moment comes when every artist must answer this basic question: is my creativity meant to express my outlook and how I feel, or is my purpose to help my audience examine their outlook and discover how they feel, to help reveal and examine the truths already surrounding them?  

Perhaps it freely spans somewhere in-between like a pendulum arcing point to point?

The late great violinist Isaac Stern set the stage well in the documentary From Mao To Mozart: “Every time you pick up the instrument you are making a statement, your statement.   And it must be a statement of faith that you believe this is the way you want to speak.”

What to say is a matter of inspiration and perspective.  Distinctive ideas, values and experiences meld with continual curiosity and observation to form the perspective behind the work (and artistry is work like any other, albeit within a specialized profession). The way one chooses to speak is a matter of personal preference, skill and ingenuity.

Apart from the essence of creativity and the various methods and idioms applied in a craft or discipline, purpose combines with perspective and personality to mold the inextricable identity of an artist (life and art are one).  Art expresses not only ideas but also the underlying quality and substance of a creator’s viewpoint.

People connect with compelling impressions and what is communicated can affect the audience in many ways.  Indeed, an artist should be conscious of appeal and influence.  The mature person recognizes both individual and community interests and proceeds with a certain sense of equilibrium, respecting one’s own impetus while transcending egoism to participate in the world and contribute something to it.

Of course, we each must use our intelligence to clarify feelings and reconcile our efforts with greater purpose.  We also need to lean on each other every day to survive and, more importantly, to thrive.  Troubles, trials, and tragedies are part of life.  So are peace and harmony.  While difficulties can offer opportunities for us to rise above and grow together, we must not wait for adversity to forge the bonds of unity.  We should strive to appreciate the good and the bad.

But sometimes the spirit is elusive, often because we are constantly on the go, hardly stopping to listen. People do not like to be shaped by others even when their days are at a standstill.  Many will often hold on stubbornly to misery rather than yield to a love that would liberate.

Music, literature, film, et al, each opens windows to transformative powers, alternatives to perpetual motion that are designed to pause and reflect on events, then move on.  The key is letting go, letting be, letting grow.  We give ourselves permission to relax enough to let go of what restricts us, to let a new way of being into our lives and let consequent growth occur.  Just as rest and relaxation renew our bodies and emotions, so love renews our whole being and shapes our minds and hearts to divine values.

When I engage in the recurring roles of composer, lyricist, philosopher, poet and critic, my objective is to use my worldview to illustrate obstacles and triumphs as I experience and observe them.  Verse, image and melody can lead a person through the peaks and valleys of life.  In the end, turning attention from lingering on the scenes left behind to view in one’s own unique way what lies beyond the other side of the mountains, challenging people with this simple directive:

Open your gaze to the empty road ahead.  The rest of the journey is yours to choose.  Just lead the way….

Elevate & Celebrate!!!


©2013 GWMIII. All Rights Reserved.