At this point, I think I might even be considered a hoarder. But I'm okay with it.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have people stashed away under the floor boards or in a basement. It's not like that. It's just that, over time I have met, befriended, and kept in contact with a lot of very talented, very creative people. I never knew the significance of my collection until it all became clear to me a few years ago.
All my life, I wanted to be a poet, a painter, a musician, and I was terrified to be any of these things because I knew all too well the struggles of my beloveds who were pursuing similar dreams. (I do love social work, by the way and without my social work education, I would not have envisioned the Tryst -- So, I guess I'm a social worker by always too, huh?) Unlike many of my creative contemporaries who decided to focus on their art, I have always enjoyed health insurance, paid time off, and a steady income. But I no longer wish to trade art for a 9-5 career, no matter how meaningful that career is; and I no longer wish for my friends to trade good health and financial stability for their art. It can't be an either/or scenario.
In social work school I decided that I was going to figure out how to also be an artist without having to face the social justice issues that creative people face relating to housing, income, and health (and even race, gender, ability, and age). Ok, well, I haven't completely figured that all out yet because I first had proclaim, "The creative community is facing some serious social justice issues! Pay attention," which is what the Tryst is currently doing, hence our people collection.
Not only do we collect people, but we also encourage the collection of people. I want you to collect people too because here at the Tryst, that's what we do. We are a bunch of hoarding missionaries proselytizing about the arts - banging our paintbrushes on our cymbals, ripping out pages from our chapbooks, balling them up and throwing them at your heads. "Hey, look here!" we exclaim. "Do you face these problems, too?" we ask.
These are issues that all creative people know about, but haven't seriously or successfully been addressed, systemically. There is virtually no creative middle class. This is a serious problem. The creative community cannot continue the way it has been, at the expense of their health, mental health, and without having their basic needs met.
What's the answer? We have to organize.
Community organizing is only as powerful as its membership. There really is power in numbers. Thus, collecting people is a powerful force. And the way we collect people at the Tryst is to have parties!
As Michele informed you, we are working on obtaining a venue for our next several parties (shows, exhibits, festivals, whatever you want to name them). We are really excited about the upcoming shows, which will be themed. For the next show, we are seeking performers, artists, crafters, and any other creative people who want to share work inspired by BP's mephistophelian oil spill. Please comment here or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested.
Altogether, we are planning six shows. After the (1) oil spill show (party) are shows (2) addressing ways to define Womynhood, (3) sharing reactions to the food industry and agribusiness, (4) using rubbage and found objects to make statements about the state of the environment, (5) sharing with you the frustrations of the 9-5 work world, and (6) revealing our private experiences with mental health and substance abuse.
The Tryst Collective is a public collection, for all the world to experience, and we would love for you to be a part of our community and help us build it so that we can create a world where we can work and live as the creative people we were meant to be.
Photo credit #3: Fuseman