Taking Responsibility: Anne Truitt Steps Humbly Into The Light

Artist Anne Truitt wrote…

“The fact of financial insecurity…and the momentum of my own work and my efforts to be responsible for it, have thrown me into the open. The open being: I am an artist. Even to write it makes me feel deeply uneasy. I am, I feel, not good enough to be an artist”.

There is much to be gained from these words, but what speaks to me currently is the notion of responsibility.

Anne Truitt, Triad, 1977. Whitney Museum of American Art, © Estate of Anne Truitt

Anne Truitt, Triad, 1977. Whitney Museum of American Art, © Estate of Anne Truitt

That Ms. Truitt is attempting to own up to her work demonstrates the artist’s nerve. Taking responsibility reveals she is standing behind her art, good or bad, accepted or rejected, as though it were her child. How can anyone, let alone an artist, possibly grow as anything without first taking personal responsibility for her actions and the subsequent results?

And key here is her use of the word “efforts.” It requires determination to take the action of responsibility, because it does, as Truitt says, throw you “into the open”. Maria Popova’s article, on her blog Brain Pickings, interprets Truitt beautifully when she writes…

“(She) gave us her wisdom on compassion, humility, and how to cure our chronic self-righteousness and the difference between doing art and being an artist.”

Productive artists have an internal strength developed through doing and more doing. They continuously face head-on their feelings of inadequacy. They face “the nerve of failure” as Lichtenstein said.

Working artists have a willingness to be responsible for their life. The lesson for me is that we all have the same human frailties, and the capacity, again from Ms. Truitt, “to do the work anyway”.

See also:
Anne Truitt’s Artistic Journey, Smithsonian.com


MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at mtmcclanahan.com.

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