Laurie Anderson 2012: ‘An Artist-in-Residence in Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court…’

Experimental artist Laurie Anderson has broken and blurred all sorts of boundaries, ‘rules’ and perceptions of what music, art, technology, narrative, performer and audience are. Almost forty years after her groundbreaking entry into, for lack of a better term, multimedia performance art and storytelling, she continues to explore and evoke and create. And communicate.

In late May 2012, she gave the commencement address to the (lucky) graduating students of The School of Visual Arts at Radio City Music Hall. Here are a few of her thoughts from that commencement ceremony address.

“I think there should be an artist-in-residence in Congress, an artist-in-residence in the White House, an artist-in-residence in the Supreme Court. Artists have a unique point of view, and why isn’t that a part of the bigger picture in our country?”

She added, “Meanwhile, here’s something to keep in mind. No one will ever ask you to do the thing you really want to do. You’ve got to take my word on this; do not, do not wait for this to happen. It will never happen. Things will happen to you, but this will never happen. So just think of what you’d like to do, what you dream of doing, and then just start doing it.”

 The video starts at the 14:40 mark, but there are little jewels sprinkled throughout for artists of any age, any nationality, any level of achievement, any discipline. If you have the inclination to check out the whole thing, it’s a wonderful talk, replete with her characteristic succinct and witty observations, as well as a little mini-performance at the end. If you’re pressed for time, just watch the first few minutes from where the video is cued up to and then jump ahead to 29:35 where she talks of redefining what it means to be an artist, makes note of how in a world of rapid change that nowadays one career or one path is no longer the norm or even possible, and offers some tips for artists and non-artists alike to keep in mind as they journey through life.

Laurie Anderson 2012; still inspiring, still exploring.

cross-posted at