Art Works Blog

NEA Arts: A Place for New Ideas

When you hear the word "punk," it might conjure  a lot of things---safety-pin jewelry, wild hair, really loud music. These days, however, punk is recognized as a bonafide artistic movement and not just a youth rebellion. Don't believe us? Why not ask the august Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently hosted the blockbuster exhibition PUNK: Chaos to Couture. (Visit the Blue Star Museums blog to read more about the exhibit.)

In the current issue of NEA Arts, we're looking at artists and art movements that were ahead of their time. Who better to represent punk music than one of the genre's godfathers, Ian MacKaye, who has fronted a number of seminal bands including Fugazi. We spoke with MacKaye about a range of things, from why the DC music scene was so important to its young people to what it means to be an independent musician to the definition of punk.

Here's MacKaye's take on the idea of music as his career:

[My band] Teen Idles, we largely played to our friends, and they liked us because they were our friends, and we had a good time. We were never careerists. It wasn't until maybe 15 years ago or something, or maybe ten years ago even, where some authority figure asked me what I did for a living, and I wrote down "musician." It had never occurred to me. I never thought about being a musician. I just was a kid who wanted to be in a band, which is different than being a musician. It wasn't a career move. I still don't think about a career. I just don't think like that.

Click here to read the interview in full.

Interested in reading about more innovative musicians? Check out our NEA Arts interview with Afrikaa Bambaataa and our Art Talk with Michael Hearst of One Ring Zero.


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