Sunday, June 03, 2007

What Is Art?

As I was perusing an artists' magazine for inspiration, I asked myself what defines art. Actually, the question has come up quite a bit recently. Sometimes what the viewer perceives is entirely different than what the creator intended. My friend LeAnne has a wonderful blog on art. One of the main principles she discusses is that as a creative process, art connects us all to our Creator. So even if it's never seen by another person, the act of creating art has some value for the artist.
But if I create something and if fails to convey what I wanted to express, does it fail as art on that level? Or is the artistic expression dependent on some sort of background knowledge of the artist's perspective, an understanding that would share vital information on the meaning of the work?
It's a question writers also need to ask in writing for publication. The story of how my brother & I had fun putting a puzzle together last Christmas is significant to me. But unless you know me & Brian, there really isn't any meaning behind it worth sharing. It has it's place in the pages of my journal, but if I were to try to publish it the editor or reader would wonder "what's your point?"
I sometimes have a similar experience when I look at the altered books or handmade books of others. The meaning isn't clear. It's pretty. The colors work well together. The technique is admirable. But it doesn't do anything for me. The artist may have an emotional connection to a trip they took, or a conversation they had, or whatever. But it isn't communicated to me in a way that makes me care. In contrast, some altered books or handmade books clearly tell a story. I may not know the people and places in the work, but it resonates with me. As a writer, being able to bridge this gap where artistic license is used for the purpose of enhancing the story is important to me.
As writers and artists, we need to be able to discern between "cheap therapy" and a message that needs to be shared. And we need to hone our craft so that we can communicate that message effectively with others.

Current Read: The Peacemaker, Ken Sande
Current Music: American IV, Johnny Cash

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