Using Art to Connect with People

Using art toA few weeks ago, I wrote about how asking other people for help is a way to forge a connection. The post was inspired by the book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. I loved the core message that making yourself vulnerable by revealing a need and permitting someone else to fulfill it is how relationships are made and strengthened.

Palmer also writes quite a bit about her art being the vehicle she uses to connect with people. From her earliest days as a street performer, Palmer has operated by asking consumers directly for contributions (sometimes with the result of harsh criticism, as when she ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of an album). Regardless of what you think of her specific methods, I think there’s a message here that resonates with anyone who creates something to share with others, be it visual art, performance, writing, or music.

She writes,

Giving away free content, for me, was about the value of the music becoming the connection itself.

It was about the value coming from the taker of the flower, the hearer of the song, the heart of the beholder. Being painted white and standing on a box, the crowdsurfing, the Kickstarter, ringing a stranger’s doorbell in the middle of the night: I no longer see these things as risk. I see them as acts of trust.

I think the real risk is the choice to disconnect. To be afraid of one another…

Asking for help requires authenticity and vulnerability.

I see a connection between what Palmer says about her musical art and my year-old project of blogging. It’s not easy to make my writing public, not knowing how it will be received and not able to take it back if things don’t go well. I feel vulnerable doing it. That makes sense if it’s true that:

Risk is the core cost of human connection, says Amanda Palmer in The Art of Asking.

I sometimes tell myself that the blogging project is entirely for myself. It forces me to write more regularly, think more critically, and imagine the professional image I want to project.

But in reality, I could achieve those goals with journal entries intended only for my own eyes. In putting my writing on the web, I am seeking a connection with others. I do want people to read and react, and hopefully relate to what I’m saying and offer something of their own in return. I’m not asking for help exactly, but I am asking for connection.

How are you putting yourself out there? What is your “art”?