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This quote from artist Laurie Anderson suggests that while art may be a deeply meaningful creative pursuit, it is not always financially lucrative. The best interpretation is that the IRS did not consider Anderson’s art a true profession since she had not derived taxable income from it at that point.
However, to Anderson, her art was clearly much more than just a casual hobby or pastime. The quote highlights the challenge many artists face in having their vocation recognized as real work even if it does not immediately generate earnings.
It also comments on the sometimes arbitrary nature of designating an endeavor as an occupation versus an avocation based solely on its profitability rather than the passion, effort and importance involved. So in essence, the quote speaks to the difficulty of reconciling artistic passion with practical financial realities.