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Apr 4, 2016

Vanishing Cultural Uplift

"Celli", crayon, by TIm Holmes
Over the course of the 20th century we've seen some dramatic social changes that affect the quality of our culture. The social forces that support a shared feeling of community excellence have fallen before a rising and ubiquitous concentration on commercial enterprise. With the fall in the influence of social cohesion and the popularity of religion and the rise of the power of corporations it seems as though any deeper sense of meaning in society has drifted from tending toward excellence–such as shared sense of good taste– to a prevailing focus on mere personal satisfaction. As a result it seems that the social forces that lifted us toward "high culture" have been subsumed by mere popularity, favoring "low culture". 

This trend shows a disappearance of any civilizing factor for the general betterment of culture. The great struggles that we've faced, such as the world wars, gave our nation a general sense of national unity and camaraderie exemplified by the personal scarifice for the greater cause that held sway during WWII (and we all experienced briefly after the 9/11 attacks) but that has since dissolved. This is due partly to that same rising commercialism and partly to the triumph of individual-focused capitalism and the western "defeat" of communally-oriented political systems like communism and socialism. Today in the 21st-century the individual is king and government is seen as little more than a drag on private enterprise and a constraint on individual freedom. In such a world I don't see any force beyond personal preference that keeps culture lifting toward our bettern nature, striving for the best in human imagination as "greatness" dissolves into a race to the bottom, driven only by mere popularity. 

This puts a lot of pressure on artists like me, against the strong current of the market, to not only produce meaningful "high" culture, but model it, justify it, and to encourage others to value a more meaningful connection with others and toward 'the angels of our higher nature'. Yeah, and good luck with that!

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.