So. It sucks to be alive in the world right now. But, life has always been hard. For some people it has always been hard. Let’s talk about artists.

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David by Michelangelo

Unless backed by an exorbitant amount of money, artists throughout history have struggled to make their art. The struggling artist is a stereotype that we have seen throughout history and that is because art is not seen as something essential. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it isn’t included in our pyramid, but some may argue that art is foundational human, in fact it lives underneath that pyramid. For me, and many other artists, this time is a time of reflection. How commercial is art your art right now? Are you holding yourself accountable to creating art and being creative every day? It is difficult, yes, but it will be more difficult if you down in the negativity of today’s reality. With technology, we are constantly sucked into this powerful vortex of consumption and find it difficult to get ourselves out. Narratives and stories that are claimed as honest and true are simply proclamations of hyperbole for the masses to panic and then consume more. In the United States, we are consumers all the time. Every second of every day, we consume media and material which then profits other people. We are constantly paying people with our time, our clicks, and our possibility of purchase that the system will convince us to spend that 59.99 …


To be an artist is to be always aware. If I have learned anything over these past months… it is that I am constantly learning how capable my awareness is.

In both my personal life and professional, the tools I am crafting as an actor and creative stem from me. I am all the paint and canvas that I have available so that is where I began in this rediscovery of being an artist. I began with a rediscovery of me, which at this current moment has been painful.

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Source: Fanatic Studio / Science Photo Library

I’m sure many people understand the need a drive to be an artist, and many people have entirely no idea what that struggle is like. For me, logistics like surviving month-to-month or paycheck-to-paycheck used to excite me or give me drive to create with what I had. …


I just finished working as a Group Leader for the Open Jar Institute.

As I sit here in my bed watching the last season of The West Wing, I think about the idea of inspiration and endurance. I have pushed so much energy into these students that I realized teaching is a full time job. Giving knowledge and energy is a full time job, which is why I have so much respect for my past mentors and teachers that have made me who I am today. Now I sit here looking for the next thing.

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I left my job working at Apple… a stable, positive environment that I could rely on… for the opportunity to be an artist fully. That commitment is scary especially when New York constantly asks for rent and you have to be able to fund the projects you want to do. …


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I have been trying to swim up to four miles a week and have been keeping up with that for about two weeks now. My body has never really been in a place where I have felt sexy or confident about my mid-section, but I think that will change this year. I’m learning what a priority looks like, and it is time I finally prioritize myself. And that notion makes me really ecstatic.

What does this mean in the long-term? It means a healthier body, a calmer mind, and ability to take time for mindfulness. Being underwater, as an artist, pushes me into a state of fight or flight as I have to get accustomed to my new environment where breathing out becomes the norm. By thrusting myself into this my mind wanders into places I didn’t know were important to it. …


Today I start a new journey.

I have spent the past weekend solidifying my choice to create a work of art. Something that shines historical light on tragedies of the past that we cannot forget. I have locked myself within these dark realities for awhile and will continue to do so until the play is done.

While I’m sitting here in the massive New York Public Library on 42nd street, I escape the scorching weather outside and grab hold to the chilled, air-conditioned environment incubating every word I take in. The state of our world is so terrifying… I constantly feel like we are headed, as a species, toward this finite end. That we have no control of our future or our destiny. It makes me nervous for even existing in New York City while the world is in such dismay and trying to hold onto the optimism of seeing the newest Lion King or trying that next cocktail drink on the new happy hour menu at Mickey Spillane’s. …


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The graphic novel, Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic Novel, written by Trevor R. Getz and illustrated by Liz Clarke tells the story of Abina Mansah, a young slave girl from the Gold Coast. The author, Getz, created this graphic novel to portray this unheard story of a young woman fighting for her own freedom in a country dominated by men and ruled by white, British men. The author takes use of his own creative expression to portray a determined and passionate individual who will stop at nothing to take control of her own life.

Even the cover of the graphic novel sets up the entire story that will take place. The illustration shows Abina surrounded by many ignorant men with their backs to her. This signifies the ignorance of men in power and the important notion of how history is written. The perspective of the men is all in one direction and that singular understanding is so closed off to the life that women like Abina lived during this time period in western Africa. Also, the title itself puts “the important men” below Abina’s name in a subtitle that, to me, seems sarcastic and purposeful (Getz, 2012). …


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1865 engraving by Gustave Doré, “Destruction of Leviathan”

“Nature… is by the Art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal” (Hobbes, 9).

Hobbes is a philosopher that is keen on establishing and dissecting dichotomies that he has observed in his own realities. Whether one is speaking about the large, big-picture establishment of the “commonwealth,” or if one can be so in-tune with oneself that he or she is capable of sensing the pressures of the constant motions of “objects” that are attributed to the internal reactions of our senses on the external world.

Hobbes begins his 1651 book by discussing this “State of Nature” that inhabits and exists around all living creatures in God’s green Earth. Being a man of optimism, Hobbes expands on this natural state to say that despite all efforts, the world will always (under the ownership of human beings) find itself into a “State of War” or conflict. Some would say that Hobbes is a realist, and they would be correct. He describes a world where power, and the coercion of said power becomes the most integral component to the reality of the governed and the government. …

About

Ry Armstrong

actor, creative, and environmental activist. ryarmstrong.co

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