Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Artists as Worker: Art as Work: Artists as Knowledge Workers of the Future

Professor Richard Swaim.

I view artists as workers not very different from other "workers" yet they exhibit qualities which suggest that their mode of work, relation to work and purpose for work point the way for work of the future. As knowledge workers in an information society they have experienced the turmoil of society's experience with Toffler's "turbulent surf"; that is, the co-existence of three waves of development for the political economy-agricultural, industrial and information. Artists' behavior and adaptations illustrate a way for the future of work and workers.
Law, technology, market and organizational structure, as well as occupational career profiles, are important to understanding individuals who are artists. In the last three decades a steady stream of research literature and data bases have provided important generalizations about artists. But that is but one source, one method.
My method of examining artists and their work is based on David Laskin's notion that "The idea of any exhaustive synthesis seems untenable. The alternative is to collect the world at random, especially its most amusing shards" My discussion is based on my collection of "amusing shards"-- they being the semi-structure interviews with artists and my participant-observation experience. We will see that artists are able to combine avocation with vocation, seeing the world as one, as our two eyes combine to see one view.


Professor Richard Swaim  (United States)
Associate Professor
Gordon College of Liberal Arts
University of Baltimore

Richard teaches government and public courses at the University of Baltimore. His teaching interests include art and cultural policy, central Europe, nonprofit organizations and bureaucratic behavior. His scholarships examines artists as worker, art and cultural policy, and chaos theory.

  • Artists
  • Knowledge Society
  • Worker
  • Future

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)