Damning the art for the sins of the artist.

I believe that every creative artist of integrity wants one thing above all else from an audience–for her or his art to be appreciated and judged on its own merits.

I believe that is why we create, to make something that can stand apart from us, that exists on its own.  The process of creation is intensely personal. When we make art–write, paint, compose, photograph, whatever form our individual talent takes–we are so intimately intertwined with our creations that we lose sight of where we end and the work begins.

When we release it into the world, however, we sever that connection.  The art exists, for good or ill, as its own thing.  I don’t know if anyone who has not created a work of art can quite understand the artist’s need to step back, to let go, to see the work stand or fall on its own unsteady feet, to take its own faltering steps to meet the world.  The book on the shelf, the print on the wall, the recording on the stereo–those are the things that matter.  The artist must fade away. Forget me, remember the story I’ve told.

That is why I believe that attacking a work of art because of one’s personal feelings about the artist is evil.

Evil is not a word that I throw around lightly, but it’s the only one that fits the intensity of my feelings on this subject.  It is an act which is entirely devoid of any positive attribute.  Attacking an artist’s work not for the flaws and virtues of the work, but because of some disagreement with the artist is purely and simply causing pain for the point of causing pain.  It is the act of a coward and a bully, a way of striking a blow that cannot be countered.

Fortunately it is also an act that contains the seeds of its own destruction.  The only power that a reviewer has stems from his or her integrity.  Once it is known that a reviewer is not speaking about art at all, but only expressing his or her petty rage over some imagined slight, any words that reviewer speaks are a waste of breath.

Art is important.  It is the way in which the Divine touches the world through our hands. It is what makes us something more that dirt and bone.  It is, perhaps, the only truly human virtue. Of all the things that make us different from the beasts of the field, art is the only one that makes us better. It deserves our respect.

If you have a problem with me, take it up with me.

If you have a problem with my books, speak your mind.  I built them as solidly as I could, but I know they have flaws.  They will fight their own battles, and stand or fall as they can. I will grieve when they fall, as any creator does, but I owe them too much to shield them from any blow fairly landed.

Do not damn my art for my sins.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in On Writing, Who I am. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Damning the art for the sins of the artist.

  1. Sue says:

    Yes it is evil. And yes it is bullying. It says more about the attacker than the artist. Well said

  2. mcwatty9 says:

    The absolute truth. Nothing hurts more than having your art despised simply because the one critiquing it does not like you. It is very painful and misleading, and such people are absolute road blocks in the way of improvement. I feel the same as you, no matter how much I might hate a man, or even disagree with his message, the art must be reviewed in an honest and integral fashion. Thank you for sharing.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I wonder how many classics of the past would have been lost to us if the authors would have access to the internet. Can you imagine how Hemingway or Fitzgerald would have fared on a discussion board? Poorly, I imagine.

      • mcwatty9 says:

        Totally agree. The joke through history has always been that every genius faced enormous adversity during his time. In later generations, his work is finally seen for what it is, and credit is given. The problem is that the same teachers giving the genius his credit take in students capable of the same intelligence, but despise what they do because it does not fit in with the current trend. I’m quite certain that if Hemingway took a course on writing today, he would present new ideas, and his ideas would be despised just the same.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i agree. artists create and you have the option to walk away from it if it does not please you for some reason. art is life.

  4. LindaGHill says:

    I totally agree. Damning the art because of dislike for the artist is a form of trolling, at least where the internet is concerned, and is therefore completely without worth.

  5. mrsgillies says:

    It’s not helpful to potential readers either.

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