Work in Art, Art and Work: Implications for the Development of Persons and Organizations
Homo faber, the making, fabricating (hu)man, homo ludens, the playful human, homo sapiens, the wise human: each descriptor that names us reveals a key aspect of our common self-definition in the human community. The activities of homo faber, the daily processes and products of human labor, have been one of the universal sources of subject matter for all of the arts and for good reason. In addition to being ubiquitous, work is fundamental to the psychology of the human person. The processes and products of individual and collective work also build and maintain the objects and relationships that form and express a society, sometimes with uplifting results and at other times with demeaning and degrading results. Through work we express aspects of our self-concept and what matters to us. Our chosen labor provides us a means of identity by what we do to occupy our time and space in the world: by our occupations we are known.
Some artists understood the dignity of human labor and painted it. Some felt the pain or futility of human labor and painted that. Still others sought to honor the beauty and quality of the products of human creativity and craftsmanship or to give future generations a glimpse of the ordinary working life of their time. The master among them could depict and make visual or written commentary on some or all of the above in just one work.
Works of art can assist individuals and organizations to better understand the role of work in their lives, and with such insight to proactively change why and how they engage in work and career.
Keywords: Art, Work, Personal development, Organizational development, Life themes, Cultural expressions
Dr. Eugene Audette
Associate Academic Dean, and Professor of Organization Learning & Development, School of Education, University of St. Thomas--St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota