I’ve been quiet about a lot of things recently. It’s been a rather bonkers few months. But here is something that has been on my mind.
Jason gave me the gift of art. He didn’t know it. Or he didn’t fully understand what he was doing, but this is what it comes down to.
Jason out-earned me between 4:1 and 3:1 depending on the year. (I was closing the gap, year by year.) For him, this was never a Thing. For me, it was a struggle. I wanted to be independent. I wanted to be able to support myself through my work and not be reliant on him. He never cared.
Or rather, he did care. He cared that I was pursing the things that made me happy and that we were in partnership to each other. He didn’t care that he out-earned me. He was willing to throw in more money to our shared expenses if it meant we were both leading lives that we enjoyed. He acknowledged that society valued his skill with computers more than it valued my skills as an artist and that this was bullshit. Both skillsets are valuable. Our society doesn’t flourish without either. So he supported me financial while I supported him in other ways.
This arrangement allowed me to take the low-paid or unpaid gigs which built my skills and my resume to allow me to take the better paying gigs. Jason’s support allowed me to go to grad school, which ultimately led to the job I have now. Without his support, I would have been forced to take a job that paid and not been able to focus on making art. It would have taken longer to reach where I am now and I may never have been able to take the risks I took getting here.
Jason wanted me to be happy. When I am involved in art, I am happiest. So he made it possible for me to do art.
Who gets to pursue the impressively not-lucrative business of art in the United States is heavily determined by privilege. If you have money, you get to make art. You can afford to take the low-paying or no-paying jobs that build your resume and skills into something that pays. Or you spend your free hours honing your craft around a full-time job and a life. You dedicate yourself to art and have no other hobbies, no other pastimes. The 10,000 hours theory applies to the field of art; to get to 10,000 hours around a full time job will take you a lifetime. I will hit 10,000 hours before I turn 35. This means the art we see is limited to the people who could afford to make it.
I want more than that. I want to read stories by people who don’t look like me, who weren’t raised like me, who don’t see the world like me. I want to collaborate on productions with people who’s aesthetic differs from mine. I want to watch the comedy of people who tell jokes I have to think about to understand. I want to experience the world through someone else’s art. And even more importantly than my experience, I want everyone who wants to make art, have access to that option.
Art is important. Jason gave me the gift of a life in the arts.