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 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

Photos by Mark Menjivar

Find out more info and download the song from the video, sung and lyrics by me, along with the rest of the amazing compilation here.
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