Stop Thinking From The Margins

Jim Senti

As jobs maintained by human practice start slowly disappearing our communities need to start preparing for an identity crisis.  It is without question that of all groups people that must prepare for this shift the artist must be more prepared than any. An artist's keen ability to ask different kinds of questions will be the difference in a communities livelihood and sense of self. 

It is no secret we are entering a new age where due to the efficiency of technology an entire generation will suffer a massive loss of jobs. Checkers at the super market are going to dwindle away. Taxi drivers, and those who drive for ride sharing applications, will no longer be in the front seat behind the wheel. These seemingly small movements in our work force have the potential to become a cultural identity crisis that rocks our country in ways we have not seen before. Our culture and our communities have spent centuries on establishing their identities based on their work. "What do you do?" or "What line of work are you in?" is an ice-breaker for so many of us. It often gives us a direct line to better understand a person and who they are.  This work, in many cases, is still functioning under an industrial model. Work as we know it is often dictated by task lists that tell us what to do based on the demand of business. It puts many people under the gaze of the boss, the manager, or team leader who must check each box to fulfill the needs of the day.  However, in more cases than we are aware those everyday task lists are no longer going to be in human hands and no longer will a person have the privilege of being told "what to do" for their job, for their money, and far more importantly: for their sense of identity. It will be up to the person to make decisions and take actions for themselves to fulfill their sense of identity. This has the potential to be painful and discouraging for many. 

It will be the artist, particularly those artists who have been shouting from the margins of communities about their ideas and innovations, that must enter back to the center of their communities to formally become tomorrows leaders. It is the artist, particularly the fine artists with the privilege of having focused, well practiced training, that must lead and teach the coming lost generation to start asking new kinds of questions. These questions are not based on check lists. The artist must lead our communities away from the question "what do I do?" and help our lost begin to ask the questions "what can I do?" , "what am I capable of?", and "what do we have and how do we make something out of it?". The artist must now learn to be aware of critical thought, how to reason, and make rational arguments to perpetuate constructive conversation and ideas now more than ever.

The well trained artist understands these questions better than any. They understand the bridge between ideas and reality and how to build it. 

The imagination is only as powerful as those who are capable of manifesting it. 

Mark my words: A liberal arts education with a focus in the fine arts will be what saves our communities large and small. So what exactly can the artist do to prepare for leadership? For starters, continue to make your artwork but begin to start listening more closely to your immediate community.  Once you do this find ways to use your ability to not only create masterful artwork, but attempt to solve problems in your community with your work as well. Most importantly, find ways to teach people in your community how to think for themselves, how to think critically, and how to actually create something. If you are, stop thinking from the margins of your community, put yourself at the center of it all, and start taking action.