Austin Milner
The Eye of the Story
Close Reading
Week Nine


A close reading with considerable emphasis on “Finding Your Work” (P.I S.V) and The Outside World (P.II S.I)

The subtitle of Art & Fear, “Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making”, sums up how it feels to be an artist, a struggling one at least, in the way that the negative, the fear, is always the more constant emotion lingering in one’s mind. The fact that Bayles and Orland put “and Rewards” in parenthesis points to this fact by unintentionally (or maybe it is) placing the importance of the title on the word “Peril”, a negative, though really just cautious, tone that continues to shadow the corners of Art & Fear from start to finish. Art & Fear, out of all the texts we have read this quarter, stands out to me as being the most useful for my own personal path in life. Bayles and Orland state that it is essential to use one’s previous artistic work as a “guide” when creating new pieces of art. Alongside my previous works of art I plan on using Bayles and Orland’s writing as a comprehensive guide, a guide to the personal guide one might say.
It is difficult to pick a select passage among the nine chapters that make up the two parts of Art & Fear solely based on the fact that I love every single page of this book. It’s safe to say that one would be hard pressed to find any book in my library with more writings in the margins or more highlights in the pages than this book. That being said I felt a distinct connection with the last chapter of Part One, titled “Finding Your Work”, and the first chapter of Part Two, titled “The Outside World”. I’m focusing on these two sections not only because they provide a unique perspective into how one goes about the process of making art and of making art for the world but also because I also think that there is a sort of shift in thinking, or at least in writing style, among the two authors of the text.
Part One appears to, on one end, boast a more optimistic approach to the creation of art, and on the other, call attention to the risks of art making in the personal sense in such a way as to focus on the insecurities of the artist in direct connection to oneself. Part two, especially in the first chapter talks about those ideas as well but adopts a more realist, almost pessimistic attitude (of which the texts even calls attention to itself at several points). It appears to be that the pessimism might come from the authors themselves and how they feel the state of the world is at the current time of the books publication (1993). This is not surprising to me, as the latter half of Art & Fear spends a good amount of time discussing American society and how is clashes with the artistic process and, more importantly, how it can easily corrupt the mind of an artist in any medium, especially the performing or media related arts.
It appears to me, if I am reading into the text as I assume others might be as well, that Capitalism is, though not entirely, what we can place a fair amount of the blame on for at least the current state of the “failed artist”. In a Capitalist society, such as the United States of America and in any country that it’s citizens operate under a lifestyle of consumer culture; art will always suffer because it serves the audience more than it serves the artist. One of the most important thing that I think can be gained from Art & Fear is that the artist must always create art for themselves and for the betterment of the understand of their own life, in whatever way that may be. The second an artist makes a piece for whom the want it to be seen instead of for what they themselves truly see, the art ceases to become genuine and is then a fragment of the artwork, hallow, an imitation.
What I believe that Art & Fear is trying to say more than anything else is that the artist must trust their own path must create their own path and must accept what that path turns out to be, no matter how muddy it may seem or become. A passage of significant importance that struck me while reading the book to such an extent that I literally just highlighted the entire two-page spread was one about how the artist creates their work and how the audience will never care about the process but that it is vitally important and inevitable that the artist them self will learn more from the process of creating art than anything else.