Last week, I officially set myself on a path of discovery I have wanted to explore for quite some time. I began with these questions:
What if the arts are not superfluous?
What if the arts are not only “not superfluous” – what if art is essential to our very being?
What if the arts are not only “not superfluous” – what if art is the most important thing funders can fund?
What if negating the arts, de-funding the arts, ignoring the arts – what if that is the root cause of a great majority of our current woes?
Ever the facilitator, however, I know there is a precursor question that must be asked first:
What is art?
But certainly that is not what art is at its core. We all know art that is neither beautiful nor aesthetically pleasing, which even the most philistine among us would concede is, in fact, art – just perhaps not to their liking. (Fred Babb’s fabulous t-shirt, “Good art won’t match your sofa” comes to mind…)
Art can be a play whose set is ugly and characters uglier. Art can be a movie that is emotionally painful to watch as it unfolds. Art can be a painting that shakes us to the core. They may not be pretty, but often there is no denying it is art.
A story handed down from mother to child? A crude drawing by Picasso? The meandering song of a contented 3-year-old? A dashboard-full of rubber ducks?
What is art?
If we acknowledge that the ability to produce “art” is one of the things that separates humans from other animals, what, then, is “art?”
Possible answers run through my head.
Art is how we express our spirit, our humanity.
Art is how we interpret our world.
Art is the lens through which we filter what we experience.
Art is the expression and reflection of what it is to be human.
Art is how we answer questions for which we have no answers.
But am I even close?
We argue that the arts are important. We argue that this is so, not simply because of what the arts mean to the economy, but simply because art in and of itself is important.
This thing that is so important, that separates us from other animals…What is it, oh artists and readers of this blog?
What is this thing we call “art?”
Mad Dash: Me
Whichever She Got to First: Lizzie Sam