Prince Is Dead. Long Live Prince.
If you’ve logged on to social media in the last 24 hours, you’ve probably noticed the incredible response to Prince’s death. I’ve been pondering the phenomenon for the last day … it’s overwhelming .. so much outpouring of respect and sadness. I’ve asked myself over and over, why? Why are people publicly sharing their memories of listening to his music like he was a best friend? Why are skyscrapers being lit up in purple at night in his honor?
I think it’s because his art connected us as a culture. Certainly, he had the advantage of being a “mega-star” of 80’s music. But, I believe his notoriety was result of more than just marketing. Prince was an artist, and whether you liked his music or not, he connected to people through his art. But he did more than connect himself and his art to people. He connected people through his art (incidentally, that is why the marketing dollars were spent to promote his art). His art disrupted and transformed culture. In some way, his art and our response to it defined our culture. Most of us didn’t know Prince personally, but if we experienced his art, we experienced an intimate outpouring of his story. We connected to something intimate that connected us to each other. So, it is not surprising that when someone like Prince dies, we feel like we lost a close friend. That is the power of art.
So what does that mean for artists?
As a creative artist, you’re a blessing to this world and everyone who lives in it. Maybe you don’t have the platform of MTV, or stadiums full of fans. Maybe your work isn’t displayed in an international art gallery. Maybe your film will never be seen in a theater. But, I propose that we have a greater purpose as creative artists. Our purpose is to be who we are, and create, disrupt, transform, and connect culture and communities great and small. Our purpose is to invite people into intimate reflection and dialog to heal and unite. Our purpose is more powerful that we realize. We are more than artists. We are art.
How do you see art impacting culture?