Artist as Musician: A Multi-disciplinary Path

Recently at the Winnipeg Folk Festival when Tim Robbins and his fanastic folk-rock band took the stage, I heard someone nearby comment “why do so many actors insist on trying to be musicians too?” Had it been a coversation I was a part of and not just eavesdropping on I would have quickly replied:

Because they are artists and peformers and one practice does not exclude the other.

Why is it so surprising that an actor may also be a songwriter? Or that a sculptor may also be a poet? Certainly many artists have a practice or material that they are most moved to work in, but creative people are exactly that – creative. Of course an artist will also be inspired to explore and express themselves in other mediums. None of us, artists or otherwise, Indigenous or otherwise, are confined to one answer only when we fill in the blank: I am a ____________.

In Janet Rogers‘ most recent article for BC Musician Magazine she describes her path as a poet, musician, drum-maker and painter.

Yes, most native artists are multi-faceted practitioners. I am no exception, keeping at least 4 or 5 creative balls in the air at all times. In the winter of 2009, however, I regretfully yet decidedly put one of my art practices down to focus on my writing. The results have been text book, while making room for one discipline, the opportunities within the other discipline increased exponentially. I used to paint, I used to make drums, I used to make prints, I used to love my artsy-crafty sessions and I miss having time to work on these things.

Painting seems to be the lover I miss the most. In fact, on the long, three-day drive back from the southwest this May, I made a mental commitment to myself to paint again. This kind of self-resolve is where it begins. …the muse is always listening. Speak your intentions and the avenues seem to magically open. You have to take the steps mind you, and do the work. But never doubt the power of intention and commitment – in all aspects of life.

…and in whatever medium you choose!

True, as Janet describes, it is a juggling act to be involved in multiple art forms and finding the time to pursue and focus each one can be a challenge. But I believe, and see, that exploring your ideas through different practices enriches your work overall. Janet’s conclusion also rings true: “Everything is everything – creative.”