A letter to “The Role of the Artist”

To make a long story short. I put making art aside for “revolution” and by no one else’s will but my own, I got wrapped up in the underbelly of online anti fascism. I mouthed off to a character and thought that because of what i said somebody else was going to get hurt or even worse, hurt themselves because of me. That led to a chaotic spiral of depression, a nervous breakdown, and finally an uncomfortably long stay in a psychiatric hospital. For me, making art is one of the few things that keeps me wanting to be alive. Now that I’m healing from all that I can really only see art as my life preserver. Every time I stop pursuing art, my bi polar worsens and things get bad, almost to the point of having another breakdown. I’m not saying that anti fascism is to blame or wanting to play an insurgent role is bad, but speaking from a personal experience, I believe that some artists shouldn’t leave their canvas to “make political art out of a jaw line”. Their role, if an artist is to even have a role, should be to survive and to continue to make art.

I tried to play freedom fighter, leaving art and my life behind and all it got me was psychosis and placed in captivity by doctors that I have never met before. What am I supposed to do, go back out there and lose my head again? Am I expected to leave my canvas, the only real tool I have to survive as a black person struggling with bi polar disorder? I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I do know that I want to live as healthy as I possibly can. So with that, I am closing the curtains on online radicalism and returning to life, to healing, and art. If driving myself to the point of psychosis is what it takes to be an artist in revolution, than consider this a resignation from my “role as an artist”.

Sincerely,

an artist/maroon/

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