I see it as a collective of like-minded people, or people together in close proximity. Usually we think of a town or a neighborhood as a community. It can also mean a club, an association, a guild or a church or like churches and arts organizations, each having their own particular focus but all sharing a common idea — the love of art.
In the community of art there can be a variety of sub categories: academic, non-academic, representational, abstract, non-representational, self-taught, outsider artists and folk artists, to name a few.
Some take an academic approach to art, as originated in the British Academy in the 19th century. Basically, going to college for four years and parsing out the different techniques, disciplines and movements, breaking them down and learning each step guided by a more knowledgeable instructor (or so you hope).
Apprenticeship is acting as an assistant, learning by osmosis and hands-on experience, gleaning the information by practice and imitation to serve the needs of your master. This was how art was learned by the majority of artists centuries before the British Academy was originated, and it is still a viable means of eliciting information from great artists today. With this process you will know you are complete in your studies — when your master suddenly seems like an idiot.
Now we get to self-taught, outsider and folk artists. These are the invisible members of our art community. This group is hard to find and harder to bring into the light. They are mostly people who, for their own personal reasons, choose not to work in a collective, but alone, taking their own path, their own way, usually with the materials they have on hand.
Each have some unique qualities about their approach to art but share the idea of individuality, originality and purity of though. Even so, these are an important part of the artists community, whether they know it or not.
Self-taught artists generally find information in books, and now through YouTube and other electronic media. They work in trial and error to create a work that satisfies their need to make art, usually copying other works of art and applying those skills to their own creations.
They are hermits by nature or afraid of criticism, or feel inferior to other artists (usually unwarranted) and rather live with uncertainty than facing the possible horrible truth.
What they don’t realize is that all artists are self-taught to some degree, and uncertainty is a way of life. It takes courage and self awareness to overcome that fear. Even the greatest artist live with self doubt about their development as an artist.
Folk artists, or Outsider artists, are people who come to art through some form of inspiration, a profound life event such as a dream or revelation in a personal and provoking experience with God who inspires or even demands the creation of objects. Through this revelation they begin the creation of objects with no evolution. That is, there is no learning curve as in the academic and self-taught process. The work is wholly complete and aesthetically perfect, even with the sometime naive quality peculiar to this artist.
They also don’t see this work as needing to be shown, as much as their art is driven to be made for making sake.
The purity of these last three types of artists of our community makes the work they do the most important work of all. As aspiring artists, we seek what they naturally own but this cannot be learned — a genius form of creativity, unadulterated by ego, self importance or a sense of entitlement.
These artists, if no one else, definitely belong in the community of artists.