Artworks shape and are shaped by our very identities

Artworks shape and are shaped by our very identities ~ Harrison White

In Careers & Creativity: Social Forces in the Art, White argues that artworks are tangible realizations of culture, in support of identity. He explains that creativity and careers needs social mechanisms and cultural content in weaving the narrative about identities in art, about the labour and effort in making art.

He develops two basic tenets that weave together into narrative of art:

  1. The shaping of identities—shaping competing identities that generates and energized the arts.
  2. Particular artworks emerge from a dialogue between artist and art world—the production of art work is stimulated and sustained by the art world.

The author compares the art world as a cruise ship. “It spend time at sea, lost in self-absorption as a separate universe in which everyone is more concerned with who sits where at the captain’s table than with the rise and fall of empires back on shore” (p. 10). The ship metaphor helps clarify the boundaries of the art world, indeed.

White focuses in the social surroundings for production in, as well as perception of, particular arts.  In White’s words, he tries to answer the following questions:  How do arts change? How does an art world get built and maintained? Does art provision flight from everyday life, or instead does art aid control over ordinary life? Can one interpret society, or persons, by their reflections in arts? How can artists both survive and be able to grow in stature?

Overall, this book raises important aspects on how artworks get shaped, formed, and sold!

You can read this book online: Careers and Creativity: Social Forces in the Arts