Lift a finger in support of artists



Cash gives his response to the request “John, lets do a shot for the warden” at a 1969 concert in San Quentin state prison. The image later was used in a full page billboard ad in 1998 as a response to country radio’s refusal to give air time to his new recordings, saying “American Recordings and Johnny Cash would like to acknowledge the Nashville music establishment and country radio for your support.”


There were no results on a google search for either “Lift a finger to support artists” or “Lift a finger in support of artists”. There was one search result for “Lift a finger for art” and two for “Lift a finger for artists”… and that just seems so telling, doesn’t it?

You may have heard that an entire first year MFA class left school last week at the University of Southern California, and that all but one of the graduating class boycotted the ceremony (read more here). You may have also heard that a new record price was set for an art object sold at auction, Picasso’s Women of Algiers selling for $179 million, which happens to be more than the entire annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts. (read more here)…. Thats one painting. A single purchase. A lot of money. None of it seen by an actual artist………

All in all it seems terrible times for support given to living, breathing, and aspiring artists….. If more people would only lift even a single finger to support artists, perhaps things would be different.

Until then, artists have been known to lift a finger as the situation calls for it. An entire University class opting out was a strong message, and the art world and academia have been reverberating with it as we continue to measure the fallout. Its all too rare that artists stand up for themselves against institutional pressures. The game seems unfairly rigged, and the artists themselves are left fighting for the scraps….. The wardens want to get their jolly perks. The bureaucrats are counting their beans. The gatekeepers are measuring your work’s resale value for when your coffin has finally been planted and they get to make some real money…..

While the significant power seems mostly out of our art creating hands we do have one card to play that is especially suited to artists: We can express ourselves. We can lift our own voices, our fingers, if no one else will. We can say, “Here’s one for the warden. Thanks for your support!”


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Arts advocacy, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lift a finger in support of artists

  1. From Hyperallergic:

    “Jennifer Pawluck, the Montrealer who was arrested in 2013 for posting a photo of a piece of street art on Instagram, has been convicted of criminal harassment and, on Thursday, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and 18 months probation. Her community service must be completed within a year.

    The 22-year-old college student has also been forbidden from posting any public messages on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and must restrict her use of the social media platforms to private communications for the next year, according to the Montreal Gazette. She had faced maximum penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.

    Reached via Facebook, Pawluck told Hyperallergic: “I am unfortunately not responding to any media questions … following my sentencing I’d prefer to keep a very low profile.”

    In late April Pawluck was found guilty for having posted a photo on Instagram of a piece of street art showing Ian Lafrenière, the lead officer for communications and media relations for the Montreal police, with a bullet wound in his forehead. Pawluck did not create the artwork, but merely saw it and posted a photo of it online. The image was accompanied by text that read “Ian Lafrenière” and “ACAB,” an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards.” Pawluck had seen the piece of street art in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood where she lives and posted it online accompanied by hashtags including “#ianlafreniere” and “#acab,” later claiming that she didn’t know who Lafrenière was. At the time, Pawluck had 81 followers.”

  2. From the New York Times:

    “Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

    By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

    Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

    The rapid increase in college enrollment can be defended by intellectually respectable arguments. Even the explosion in administrative personnel is, at least in theory, defensible. On the other hand, there are no valid arguments to support the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators, unless one considers evidence-free assertions about “the market” to be intellectually rigorous.”

  3. (heads up for the image from Chantay Poulsen)

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