Version published in Girl Mag Online, Volume 1
Throughout history, Art and Youth have been intrinsically linked. To me, this is fundamentally obvious. Whether Art is celebrating Youth, or vice versa, the two go hand in hand because of the notion of identity. As we grow from arrogantly content earthlings into fully fledged bill-paying adults, we all go through some sort of identity crisis; or identity creation, as I like to call it. This “crisis” occurs when each Youth must forge for themselves some central perspective and direction, out of the effective remnants of their childhood and the hopes of their anticipated adulthood. It is the word ‘forge’, that to me makes this the opposite of a crisis and instead an opportunity. Our journey through Youth is one of the most exciting and fulfilling struggles life throws at us, and this journey would not exist without Art.
Youth isn’t easy; it is dark, mysterious, turbulent, unpredictable, and explorative, much like Art. Whilst we search for and forge our future, there can be some extremely dark days that derail and unsettle us. It is this common cord of imbalance that permeates both Youth and Art. Any great passion implies imbalance, and a sense of lasting contentment in oneself as a whole human being, requires certain equilibrium. At the not-so-wise-or-old age of 19, I can tell you that right now this state of equilibrium is not easy to obtain, thanks to a raging symphony of hormones and daily thoughts like “what the f*ck am I supposed to be doing with my life?”.
So where does Art come in to this magnificent mess of adolescence? If you obsessively devote yourself to forging your own unique identity, or even to creating the perfect pancake, you have strayed from the range of normal human equilibrium. Creativity requires that an Artist step off the trodden path into the darkness beneath the trees. It’s those who aren’t entirely at ease in this world, aka Youth, that go off looking for something else, something better. This idea would suggest that Artists, and Youth, are already self-selected to be miserable. Is this true, and does it follow then that in order to make great Art, you have to be unhappy?
Goethe, who had a fair bit to do with popularising the suffering Artists stereotype himself and was a literary celebrity by 25, put it like this: “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” The real energy and insight needed to create a great work of Art comes not from a place of despair, but of joy. Perhaps then, it is this unrelenting energy and beautiful naivety Youth possesses of the world, that in turn propels Youthful Artistic endeavor. After all, to make Art is to create, and to create requires a certain amount of energetic expenditure- something Youth has always stereotypically and wrongly been accused of not possessing.
If we look to the societal and cultural status of the world today, and the changes that are happening to move us towards a more positive and collective global community, we see a clear vision of Youth. Through the medium of Art, whether that Art is digital, physical, verbal or tangible- it is there and it is starting to shift cultural norms that are fundamentally wrong. In fact, Youth is shifting Art itself; no longer is Art confined by gilded gold frames that hang in icy galleries. All hail the internet and social media! The new King and Queen of Artistic movement, lead by Youth. Open YouTube, iTunes, Instagram, Tumblr and you will find activists and Artists moving towards social change via an Artistic expression of distaste within the world, as well as a celebration of the world’s attributes. Free The Nipple, Black Lives Matter and Miley Cyrus’s Happy Hippie Foundation, are all social movements using the Artistic tools of Instagram to change the world. Using this site and many others as a weapon against social injustice, millions of activists are taking down the establishment one Artistic endeavor at a time- and it’s working. Youth and Art will always have each other, but social media has given this partnership a new lease of life, a voice and an identity.
Art affects change and captures the cultural evolution of people and the world, but most importantly it gives the creator purpose and life. Art acts for it’s architect as a helping hand through juvenescence, and that is why Youth itself is Art. In this light, Youth and Art become some sort of synonym- each gives life to the other, and one cannot exist without the other.