A question asked almost as much as What Is Art is What Is The Artist. And if any questions were valid, these two were. The problem though is that we get so caught in our examinations that we forget that art is also meant to be appreciated.
Art isn’t a biological specimen to be poked and prodded and torn apart. It is a thing meant to make you feel. And yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re human and we’re obsessed with categorizing and examining and damning as much as we love to hold aloft. We are what we are. But sometimes we need to be different. Sometimes you just need to shut up and feel.
The debate and dissection of art is part of what makes it impactful and lasting, and part of what spreads and shares appreciation. It is part of the process. Alas, it’s become too much of the focus of the process, the act of the art existing being forgotten, being merely the vehicle for debate. We spend so much time telling one another what is Good and what is Bad that we scarcely let one another find out for ourselves. And THAT is part of art too. Discovering what speaks to you and what doesn’t. You telling me a piece of music, a painting, a poem, or a book is genius and important but that doesn’t make it those things to me. And maybe that’s my lack of couth, or my inability to see beyond the veil of my own comfort, or maybe it just means that it doesn’t speak to me. The person that finds pop culture, and pop music, and pop art impactful is no lesser a person than the person that is touched by those things, it just means that different things are beautiful to them.
And so what?
I have certainly stamped my feet and shaken my head at the twists and turns the art world has taken, have laughed at the movies and music the culture appreciates, and have screamed aloud at some of the books that sell through the roof but I have always understood that what I think matters only to me. And that’s good. I know what I like, and I know what I don’t, and that is what is important. I like to think I am open to being surprised and wooed and impressed but I do my best not to decry a thing so much that others wouldn’t give something a chance because who the heck am I to do that? YET, that’s part of this culture of dissection we have now. A review can be an art or it can be an axe and both are often wielded with the same ferocity. So many feel that it’s better to be perched above the masses, sitting atop a stack of big words and obscure interests than to be a part of the teeming masses. Better to be telling people what’s good than just appreciating what you find is good for yourself.
And what of artists?
What are they?
People, and nothing more.
People who once in a while create things that figuratively and literally change the world.
They don’t need to be canonized, or thrown into pits, they just need to be appreciated for what they do, hopefully, when they are alive to accept the appreciation. The sad fact is that most artists will never be seen, heard, or appreciated. Their work doesn’t get the opportunity to touch people as other work does. That’s part of living in a culture that moves at the speed of the internet. Some artists never get the opportunities and some don’t take them. And there’s the rub. Sometimes people just don’t take the chances their afforded.
Sure, there are starving artists, just like there are starving plumbers, starving mechanics, starving chefs, and on and on. It’s hard all over baby, and the world don’t owe you a thing. I wish we lived in a world that allowed us to make our livings creating art for the sake of art, but we don’t. We consume art differently now and the art the surrounds us is made to sell to us, as an instrument of sales, not as an instrument of art itself. But you don’t give up, you just find ways to make the money you need to survive and to keep creating, if just for yourself. Yeah, there are starving artists, but there are a lot of people that can’t do what they love or what they are good at and make more than a meager living. Art isn’t above anything else, it IS everything else, and that’s why it’s so important, even if we must suffer to create it.
All you can do is follow your passion and work, work, work to get that passion seen, heard, and out into the world somehow, some way.
But saying that, saying it as plain and harsh as can be, the world needs art. It needs to see the world with other eyes. It needs to see the world with other hearts, and it needs it more than ever. Art allows us to dream, to die, and to live, live, live. Art in all its forms, in all of its ugliness pushes us to think about it, discuss, it, and to take or deny its inspiration. Art is something that allows Man to ascend itself and to evolve itself emotionally. We are not in a world that understands that though. We are consumers of art but not appreciators. And while dissection is necessary, I don’t think that’s the answer. Perhaps the answer is to show everyone that we are all artists just waiting to find our voices. We will not all be great artists, or impactful artists but art is its own reward. The creation of something that comes from deep inside of you is a sort of magic that the world needs more of, not less. People bemoan the surge in self-published books because the books are not part of a grand process that we are used to, and darn it, because ‘bad’ books are coming out. I ask you to peruse a book section and look at what gets releases by publishers and come back and tell me how suddenly self-pub books are the problem.
There have been too many gatekeepers that tell us what is good, and bad, and legitimate art. There are too many tastemakers that shame us for what we love and find inspiring. And there is not enough encouragement in the artist within us all. There is not enough embracing of art in all its forms. And ya know what, our tastes evolve as we do, as long as we’re open to that. Sure, none of us will get financially rich, or become culturally famous, but we’ll discover things within ourselves that we may not have seen before. We may find the spell and means to exorcise that demon that has haunted us. And a few of us just may create something that stands the test of time. Pray that the world doesn’t miss you when you’re gone, that is for your loved ones to do, no, pray that the world misses your positive impact, your art, because then you will have truly created something that transcended its creator. A very rare and special thing indeed.