Art Update: Intent & Impact
A conversation with a dear sibling got me thinking deeply about how the impact of what I intend helps me shift, adapt, and grow.
Vlog: Art Update
Hey there comrades, family, and neighbors.
It is Jason Wyman here. Coming to you with another weekly Art Update.
I had a beautiful conversation with a sibling from another mother Vic this morning. In it, we talked a lot about intent and impact, about how what we intend might not actually be what happens or what our impact may be, whether that be our words, our behaviors, our actions, our values. Often what we intend and its impact are not the same thing. And often we tend to get defensive, and we say things like, “Well, I didn't intend that".” And regardless of how defensive we may get about our intentions, the impact of our words, actions, behaviors, and values have real world consequences on others, not just ourselves. And we need to take a moment and examine the impact of what we do say and believe.
For me, a really good example of this—specifically about how intention and impact often have a dynamic and how when we learn about the impact of our intentions if we truly believe in a core intention that information about its impact actually should change the way in which we show up, the way in which we talk and speak and behave and do and even what we believe in this world. I'm going to use Art Camp as a very specific example in my life right now. I had the intention that Art Camp would be able to raise a certain amount of money, specifically, through four tickets or four paid Patron Artists. And so I set a particular price for that Patron Artist—$1500—to be able to be a part of Art Camp because I know that $1500 actually helps pay for our Fellow Artists, our Collaborating Artists, and even puts a little bit of money in my pocket. I overestimated very specifically how many tickets, or how many patrons, I could raise $1500 a piece from. I thought I actually had more connections than I actually did.
What I realized in that though is that I still want to have Patron Artists. I have friends and comrades that want to contribute and be a part of Art Camp and really what the intention underneath everything is is that I want artists participating in Art Camp, and I want to cover at least the stipend for all of my Fellow Artists that are joining me. And so I adjusted the price point a little, and I had radical conversations with a lot of different friends and comrades about actually participating in Art Camp. And how much they code or couldn't afford to be able to attend this thing. And how could you at least provide $500 or maybe more to be able to support our Fellow Artists, so that this is a real experience of mutuality.
Another example of intention versus impact is in my Fellow Artists. I had intentions about the different kinds of communities I wanted to draw Fellows from, and very specifically I didn't want to lean into my own bias of picking the people that I happen to know and I'm friends with or comrades with or people that i've worked with previously. Instead, I really wanted to find people that I didn't know. I wanted to use my network, my connections in communities, in very specific communities, to find people within those communities in order to participate in Art Camp.
And I knew that providing a stipend would make participation way easier for them. Those four communities that I really wanted to work in were a rural southern artist, an immigrant artist, someone who is formerly incarcerated, and a black youth artist. Those were the four main areas that I wanted to draw from in large part because those are the communities that i'm already working within and alongside. And so I set out to talk to people and to talk to my comrades to find other people so that they could refer people. And there wasn't a lot of hoops to participation, and in fact the stipend is really easy because I'm paying it out of my own pocket, really. And so there's not a lot of barriers to participation. There's no application form. Pretty much, it's just a conversation.
And so I started reaching out to my community, and I started finding people that might be able to participate in Art Camp. Along the way, I was able to confirm a rural, Southern artist, which I'm very excited to be working with Kae Fisher. Another person that I was able to find was Sheila McKinney from RYSE Youth Center in Richmond, California, thanks to a long-standing relationship that I have with RYSE Youth Center. And then when it came to an immigrant artist… I am very connected to a lot of immigrant artists nationally. And, also, I was very specific in my own intention that I wanted to work with Texas, very specifically, in my own head. So I reached out to a lot of educators and friends and comrades that I know in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, and asked them, “Hey, do you know any young adult immigrant artists that might want to participate?” And those things didn't necessarily pan out the way that I thought that they would pan out. And so I started reaching out again to more and more people, trying to find someone. And ultimately what ended up happening was I talked to my dear friend Cellou, who lives in Minneapolis, and I have been working with Cellou for the last year or previously in 2020 through the Alliance Youth Media Network. (Cellou was one of our Youth Fellows.) And while I love Cellou, I didn't necessarily want to select Cellou because I've worked with Cellou in the past. But in talking to Cellou, I realized that now is a really wonderful time for Cellou to actually work with us and to actually create, and I wanted to be able to give back to my community, a community that really supported me especially in 2020 with my father dying and post 2020 with you know figuring out how and when we were going to be able to bury my father. And so I reached out to Cellou, who’s also an immigrant to this country, and I asked, “Hey, I have a fellowship spot open. Would you like to participate?” And Cellou said yes.
The last spot—working with someone formerly incarcerated. I reached out to a lot of people. I even had leads for a lot of people. I talked to a lot of people, but it just really wasn't the space or time right now to be able to work with that particular population. So I expanded. I was like, okay, again the intention here is not just formerly incarcerated. The intention here, for me very specifically, is… I have a long history of working with youth in foster care, on probation, with people on parole. Not just in terms of the last year in supporting ABO Comix, but also in terms of my own professional career. I used to run literary programs for formerly system involved young people on probation and parole. So for me this has been something—a community that I have been creating with, in, and alongside. I mean even in high school I did work in juvenile halls in rural Minnesota. So it's just something… It's a group of people that I have deep ties and connections to and also realizing that right now given the context that I have…contacts that I have…things just weren't working out.
So I reached out to some more folks, and I just talked to more. I expanded my thinking to be more quote unquote “system involved". And I hate that terminology, but it's something that other folks know and it's easy to kind of put out a broader call. And I found someone, and it seemed like things were going really well. And then suddenly communication dropped off, and I tried communicating over and over and over again in a variety of different formats. And it just again didn't seem to be working out.
And so, finally, you know, I dropped all pretenses and all requirements because what I really want—again the intention of Art Camp is that there are four Fellow Artists that are participating and that without a stipend they wouldn't be able to participate. So I asked a couple of dear friends and comrades if they just knew people personally in their own lives that would like to be in this kind of opportunity.And, lo and behold, my dear friend Crystal Mason had another comrade. And just today I dropped off the final Art Kit now.
This was kind of a long story. I understand that especially when it comes to an art update like this.
I also want to highlight that regardless of our intentions, regardless of how much we want something to happen in this world, we also have to understand that, you know, what we want isn't necessarily going to be the way that things are perceived, the way that things are received, or the way that things work themselves out.
And so, it is incumbent on us, if we do have that intention, to really examine what it what is at the root and to be malleable, to listen to the feedback that is given to us whether that feedback be from someone specifically about something that we said or we did that hurt them or impacted them in a harmful or negative way or whether that thing be that I was gonna be able to raise $6000, and, oops, I was not able to actually raise that.
So what are my intentions there? My intentions for me are to honor my financial commitments to everyone that actually said that I was going to pay. That's happening. My other intention is to be able to still figure out a way for mutuality to exist, and so that requires four Fellow Artists and Four Patron artists to be able to participate in Art Camp. As of today, I have all of them regardless of whether or not all of the pieces that I had thought would fit the way that they fit.
I am incredibly excited about Art Camp. I am incredibly excited not just about the experience that I am cultivating for next week with in collaboration and community with 10 Collaborating Artists, 4 Patron Artists, and 4 Fellow Artists. I'm also excited about what I'm discovering about myself and about the process of creating or co-creating art.
And one of those things is really examining the dynamics between my intentions and my impacts and finding ways in which to use feedback, to use listening, and to use inquiry to maybe take a moment and pause and receive the information that's coming my way, so that I can course correct and so that I can continue to respond and be in community with the people that I cherish, and so that I can be in right relation with my family, comrades, and neighbors. [Whew that’s a run on sentence.]
Thank you so much for tuning in today.
I'm Jason Wyman. Check out my artist website at www.jasonwyman.com, and you probably found this because you're following my blog www.jasonwymanisqueerlycomplex.com.
Again thank you so much for tuning in, and go out and listen to some feedback! Don't get defensive. For a minute, receive that information and figure out how you might be able to change something about yourself so that the intention—the deep root intention that you really have—might actually have the impact that you hope it does.
Ciao for now.
Photo: Look Up
Look Up is a photo series I’ve been snapping for over a decade.
When I go wandering through the world, I love looking up. You can find some truly marvelous, delightful, and sometimes even spooky things. Plus, so many folx these days have their heads down or in their phones. Looking up helps reorient my perspective. Then again, I’ve always had my head in the clouds.
Image description: A photo of dying cut white flowers, including a large rose, chrysanthemums, and snapdragons. The flowers look as if they are a memorial, hung at the top of a chainlink fence on a footbridge over highway 101 near San Francisco General Hospital. The photo is snapped from below, so a street light looms blurry in the background right above the flowers. A trees branches tickle the upper edge of the photo, and also are blurry. The sky is foggy white.