A few weeks back I asked artists to answer one or more of the following questions: “What is art?” “Why is it important?” and “Why am I an artist?” Here are the last of those responses.
From Kelly Callahan:
Art is anything and everything that anyone deems artistic. . . whether it is a painting, sculpture, or raindrops in a puddle. That being said, no-one will agree on what is artistically appealing to everyone else. Art is completely personal.
And why is art important? It brings beauty, enlightenment, insight, and many more things into our lives. I am an artist because I cannot not create. It is essential to who I am. I don’t care if I never sell a thing, I must be have a creative voice.
From Steve Worthington:
There never used to be any such thing as art.
People painted on cave walls to record their trance-like hallucinations in the here and now. They made effigies to try and guarantee harvests, bring good fortune, or curry favor with the gods. People made paintings to communicate religious and political propaganda. They sang songs, danced and told stories to pass down the generations important behaviors and beliefs.
Art just happened to be the best of the best of all that.
But art is now self aware. The more it tries to be art, the more narcissistic and futile it becomes.
So when our current activities are judged by people in the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that movies, music, commercials and video games end up being considered art.
But of course, only the best of the best will make the grade.
Much of what we currently struggle to classify as art will likely be tossed aside as so much pointless navel gazing.
From Jennifer Morrison:
What is art? Any piece that captures your attention and creates thought-provoking emotions.
Art is important because it keeps the world interesting, thought-provoking, and creative! When I was diagnosed with systemic lupus I realized life is too short not to try and do something and be SOMEBODY! I love painting, now I am a full time artist. It is the one physical thing that does not exhaust me. It is my escape from reality.
From Philip Fairbairn:
The question “What is art,” came up at my art club one afternoon. I heard everything from, “it’s labour of love,” to, “it’s a relaxing way to spend some time outside.” And you know, they were all right.
But why is it that some paintings leave you thinking “Isn’t that nice” or “thats ok” and some are so well-painted they get in your mind and stay there for days?
It’s those paintings that got me started on a theory which I use to explain my love for the landscapes that I paint.
We all know that everyone paints from memory – even if you use a picture you have to look away from it to see the canvas and remember what you saw. Some artists remember it better than others.
Now go back several thousand years. To know the landscape well was to be a leader. People of your clan depended on you to go far into the wilderness for food and make it back. There was no GPS or street maps to go by, just the memory of the landscape around you. And at times knowing the landscape was a matter of life or death.
Fast foward to the year 2009. We have GPS and street maps and no need to know the landscape persay. But some can still paint like they are the great voyager of long ago, never missing the smallest of details.
My theory is that being an artist is in our DNA.
If you are a great painter of landscapes, or an artist of any kind, your ancestors left the gift of memory in your blood. It is this genetic “hand-me-down” that makes you who you are—an artist, in your mind and in your eyes.
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