Interviews

VOICES & VISIONARIES

By KIM TERRELL     Published:  FEBRUARY 5, 2014

This year, 2014, I am In search of visionary artists. But first I must define what those words visionary and artist mean to me. One thing I have noticed in the explosion and distribution of information is the pervasive assumption that we define and use words in the same way. That and the tendency to see information as knowledge.

We do not. And, it is not.

Words evoke specific images for me and in using them I understand full well that the images conjured in my being by a certain word may not be the same as the image seen by another.

So then, to me, the word visionary means the ability to “see beyond” whatever a current culture views as iconic and important, into the endless world of possibility. The word visionary, for me, does not exclude the material world but rather marries the spiritual and material forming a union that transcends both individual states. It has always seemed ridiculous to me to exclude the material world from the spiritual equation. We live in a material world in material form with our spirits informing how we engage that world.

The word Artist is often narrowly used to describe individuals who create visual representations of the world. I use the word artist as those who “express human creative skill and imagination”. Though this typically implies visual works I suggest expanding the definition to include all bodies of work, including those who ‘ponder’, as the important part of the definition for me is “skill” and “imagination”.  Too often in today’s world we are exposed to one without the other. Hence my search for a broad spectrum of artists . . . both living and dead . . .  who ply their individual crafts with skill and imagination to lead us into “seeing beyond” what currently exists.

For me personally, “artistic tribes” represent society’s advanced scouts and among the living artists I am in search of those scouts whose voices have been drowned in a sea of commercialism and banality. Today artistic voices must compete for “market share” and “ratings” hence many artistic voices have been dulled in the pursuit of identifying what is commercially viable.

My direct experience with that deadening effect of “art as market place viability” was as the artistic director of The Virtual Theatre Project. The project ran “The Pen is a Mighty Sword” new play competition and over the years we saw two trends emerge in the plays being submitted. The first was the reduction of cast size, not necessarily a bad thing, but it became formulaic. The second was the increasing number of plays submitted that lacked the visual language specific to and critical for writing for the stage. Plays typically had four or fewer characters and took place in a living room or bedroom or some other space easily framed for television.

There were notable exceptions . . . wonderfully, notable exceptions.

Among the non-living I am searching for those who still inspire us.  Those whose voices may or may not have heard while they lived.

So it is that I begin 2014 in search of Voices.  Voices who celebrate, who ponder, pause and plunge into the cauldron of creation constantly stirring the status quo.  Voices that fill our lives with sounds and shapes, colors and contrasts.  Voices that challenge our comfort zones and renew our sense of possibility and wonder, while challenging us to be our best version of ourselves.