What is art? Who would think such a small sentence was so loaded? Gombrich’s “Story of Art” talks about how the idea of “art” didn’t come around till after the Egyptian paintings. I always thought that was art, but he made me see how it is beautiful but it is also a part of a very intricate ritual with very rigid rules. It seems in the “serious” art world painting is art. At least that is what it would seem when you see what the art history books emphasize and what everyone assumes when I tell them I’m an artist. I always hear, “Oh, what do you paint?” (I do paint too, but that’s not the point.) And if you look at sales, though other art is selling, nothing sells like a painting because the general public has been told that is art. Photography was not seen as art at first either and now it is accepted by mostly everyone as art. Digital photography and manipulation seems to be the new art. This is a very exciting medium that can go in so many directions.
But this is all historical. What this question really means is, “What is art to you?” Of course, there are a lot of galleries and museums out there that are making up their own rules. You have to make up yours. I recently examined this question for myself and found I had two views (maybe there’s more in there, but I’m not going to get into multiple personality traits).
One view is from my perspective as an art teacher. That is that whatever each individual creates is art and we should all explore that side of our personalities. My neighbor who is taking pictures of her garden and blowing it up as a digital canvas is doing art. She is expressing herself in a creative way. I think this is a necessary part of the human psyche that needs so to be explored and cultivated.
My second view is as an artist. Basically, it comes down to one thing. Does it move me? Now, I can break it all down and say why one piece works and one doesn’t according to design and composition rules. I can find the logic and an understanding in any piece of art. But that doesn’t tell you what I’m really thinking. What is important to me is that it makes me feel or think, that it either answers an unsaid question or creates new ones for me to ponder. Craft, art, computerized or hand made are not the ultimate issues for me. I recently said I wanted to see the artist’s hand involved, but now I see these are the wrong words. I want to see their heart and soul. And I want that to somehow touch me, come from their realm into mine.
Can I do this with my own art? Well, I’m trying and will keep trying because I am an artist, a creator, and somehow want to give something to others of what my vision is. I want to touch someone, and I am going to give my whole heart to do it.
And that, folks, is what I think art, at least the man-made kind, is. Now, give me a misty morning with the light coming through the trees kissing the newly fallen leaves of autumn and my breath will stop. That is art too, but the artist’s hand is left to each of us for interpretation.