In May of 2012 I organized a double decker bus tour for the Open Engagement conference,, touring several local Portland businesses that was inspired by an essay from William Morris. Below is an introduction to the book that accompanied the tour.

In his 1887 essay, “The Aims of Art,” William Morris
stated “The true secret of happiness lies in taking
a genuine interest in all the details of daily life and
elevating them by art.” In this essay Morris speaks to
the happiness derived from an individual’s passion to
create. Morris saw the ill effects society was enduring
as a result of industrial capitalism, where the primary
goal of creation was profit. He believed there would
come a time when society would yearn for a deeper
connection to their work and would revisit the art of
their chosen industry. Portland is a prime example of
this resurgence of art in industry, where in almost every
facet of life there is someone discovering the joy in
making a personal connection from creator to consumer.
For me, “The Aims of Art” has served as a significant
marker in my journey through life, and in turn art.
It has served to guide me through the connections in
my life between my work (both in the sense of capital
and art), my personal and professional history, and
my current trajectory as a culture worker. Included
here is the full transcription of Morris’ Aims of Art,
alongside my commentary. This commentary serves
as a tour of this text as seen through the lens of the
thinking behind my most recent work, Signs of Change,
which in many ways I see as a manifestation of the core
principals in Morris’ essay. The words that he spoke
in 1887 have an uncanny relevance to the cultural
shifts we are seeing in Portland today, and possibly
indicate changes that are poised to happen globally.
-Jason Sturgill, May 2012

(thumbnail photo by Mark Menjivar)

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