If you're a regular reader of the blog, or you've heard NEA Chair Rocco Landesman speak, or you've just caught a glimpse of our logo, you know that to us "Art works" is more than just a phrase. Instead it's how we think about everything we support here---from the artworks themselves, to the transformational work that art does on individuals and on communities, to artists who are themselves workers and entrepreneurs. But what's really great about the phrase "Art works" is that its interpretations are varied and unlimited. Don't believe us? Then check out how some of the artists and arts leaders we've interviewed for the blog define this multi-dimensional phrase.
Gregory Pardlo, poet and translator
"Coincidentally (or not), I think the phrase 'Art Works' evokes this idea of art as challenge or provocation in addition to---or at the same time as it is---aspiring to some aesthetic achievement. Something that works has use and value. So I see this phrase as countering the idea that art is a passive luxury that is expendable in times of limited resources. Also, 'Art Works' suggests art is a solution. We may not know what it is a solution to, 'yet,' as Williams says of poetry, '[people] die every day for lack/ of what is found/ there.'"
Leyya Tawil, Founder, Dance Elixir
"Art is working, working really really hard. And art is a functional practice. It’s not salt at the end of the meal; it is the meal. And so it’s working in a functional way. And it works to change people, and it works to change systems. Art works as a catalyst. 'Art works' is really nice because it becomes a verb. I like to think of it as a verb, being a dancer."
Ann Angel, young adults author
"Art Works to heal and to find joy through shared struggle and experience. It works to help us understand our world even as it engages us to live fully in the world. Art is the creative, fully-engaged way we live. It is prayer and spirit and sustenance. It is advocacy and thoughtful consideration. It is social change and contemplative living. Art Works because it can leave this world a better place than we found it."
David Henry Hwang, playwright
"As an artist, I feel the NEA’s slogan emphasizes that art is work. It is a job, I run a small business, and my product is scripts. It happens to be a job that I love, which allows me to utilize all my abilities, and to which I am passionately committed. But in the end, I have to make a living, pay my mortgage, and support my family. So I am proud to be a Working Artist."
Hung Liu, visual artist
Art Works---that’s just two words, but to me it’s very interesting. It means that art is like anything else---you need to work on it. But when I read it as a noun, artworks, it means it’s one thing---artistic pieces. It could be concrete and very substantial by specific artists or specific artist groups or collaborations. There’s an image with color, with shape, with size, with weight, with texture, with light, maybe even with the five senses: you can smell, you can look, you can touch, you can hear. You can taste even. But to me, another way to read [the phrase] is with art as the subject, works as the verb. So art works is a verb meaning that art actually works, like this car works. That telephone works. So “works” means it’s running. It’s effective. It’s in action. It’s in progress. There are multiple readings to me. It’s a very smart motto.
Jane Comfort, Founder, Jane Comfort and Company
"Art works. Just let it."
Want to read more Art Works Art Talks? Click on the "Art Talks" category under Highlights on the right-hand side of the blog.