The question “What is Art?” had been asked probably more than a million times.
“Art can not be separate from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life’s experience.” – Robert Henri, Artist.
Way back in college, I have come across a very interesting reading on what Art is written by Mary Ann Staniszewski, Ph. D, in Art History from New York. Staniszewski’s main argument was that Art is a modern invention, and everything that we consider as art that was created before the term was even coined is not and shouldn’t be considered as art. By this definition, it would rule out the intricately designed gold images from the tombs of Egypt as art, it would not regard the colorful ancient African pottery as art, and it would not consider Michaelangelo’s breathtaking Creation of Adam as art. To tell you honestly, it rattled my world the first time that I got to read Staniszewski’s paper.
As an MA student in Art History, it is somewhat ordinary to come across and discuss big terms in class; and whenever it’s my turn to use one (let’s say for a paper or for a report), I make sure that I have a clear and stable meaning in mind, and it’s also evident to my listeners my working definition and under which context I’m using it for.
Going back, if I’m going to study Art then it’s a given fact that I should have a clear-cut view on what Art is, right? Upon further reading and experience, here is my take on what is Art, Virna style, and to make it easier, I’ll layout this as more of a question and answer type of post. I’ll also take the end of my post as a venue to show the online world (for the first time) my illustrations and other artful creations. After all, what’s an artsy mommy blog if it doesn’t have its own definition of what art is, right? Let’s go!
What is Art?
The usual answer would be “it’s a way of communicating or expressing yourself that is louder than words”. That’s the way I’ve defined it before, and sometimes, I still define art that way – and that’s okay, because it is a way of communication not just for yourself or the artist, but art can communicate histories, cultures, and schools of thought, just to name a few.
With that said, for an object, or creation to be considered as a work of art, it should communicate something; it should have meaning; it should have value; it should have worth. And when the time comes that you encounter something that doesn’t mean anything, then you should also consider the thought that by creating something that doesn’t mean and amount to anything and labeling it as “art” might have a meaning on its own.
In connection to Staniszewski’s paper, it is of vital importance that for a creative work to be considered as “art”, it should be labeled and viewed so by the creator/artist that his work is art. That’s why the paper was so proactive to its readers in pointing out that certain works considered as art today may not be art at all because the very term “art” itself has just been recently invented – leaving the artist/creator of the works unaware that the object that they created could be considered (in concept) as art in the future.
There is an exemption though. Art could be recognized not only by the artist but by different levels of standard. Personally, if a certain work is considered by the community as a work of art, regardless if the object functioned as an eating utensil, or a religious instrument, etc, it could be considered as a work of art. If the academic community, namely the art historians, art critics, and the art scholars in general consider a work as a work of art, then that work inherits the title as well.
When should you use Art (capitalized), and when should you use art?
I use Art when I’m referring to the concept as a whole or when I’m making reference to the general and abstract thought of Art itself. Meanwhile, I use art to refer to the concrete objects considered as works of art. To push the discussion further, when you say “art”, you would be referring to the art that we discuss here: the product of inspired and creative activity, while “the arts” would refer to other schools of thought, for instance those belonging to the liberal arts.
What are the different forms of Art?
Personally, I find it easier to refer to them as static and temporal. With static, I’m referring to the ones that doesn’t “move” like painting, sculpture, and architecture. Temporal types however occupy a certain space in time, like music, dance, theater. They have the element of duration.
A lot of people usually consider when an object is art and when it’s not depending on how it looks like; and with that, let me add this one last note. It doesn’t matter whether a work is pleasing to the eye or not. Beauty will always be subjective to the person viewing it and each viewer looks at a certain object with their own lens that is influenced by the environment and culture that they grew up in, their friends and family, the history and the events currently happening in their lives and country, the media and popular culture that is trending during the time that they viewed the work, and finally their unique personal preference and mood at the time of viewing. So whenever you view or create something and you’re not sure whether it could be considered as art or not, remember that most of the time, it is up to you, the viewer or creator, to label it as so, and so shall it be.
My own illustrations and works of art
You’ll definitely see more works of mine in the future. In fact, one of the things that motivated me the most to put up a blog of my own is the thought of finally having a venue to show my works to the world. I’m still a long way off to becoming a professional artist. I also recognize that there are millions of other illustrators in the world that draw more beautifully. Not to mention that I’m still trying my best to practice more often to improve my skills. But, I told myself, if I cower to show my works in my own turf – then where else would I show them? So, here they are.
A bit of information about me as an artist. I’m a mixed media type of girl because I love working with different mediums, and I also enjoy incorporating different objects (like flower petals and dried leaves) into my works. I am most comfortable working with pencils. I’m currently improving on my portraits.
Another factor why I chose mixed media is because the world simply has a lot of fun things to offer! I find the entire process of creating works, and putting unexpected objects on them – that are otherwise not art materials – really fun and liberating. It gives me a certain feeling of control and power.
I don’t rush my works. I believe that the most important part of art is the creation process, that if you don’t enjoy making art in the first place, then why would you even bother becoming an artist? With that being said, I have works that take months to complete. I wait for them to “talk” to me; to tell me what they want me to do to them. I would stare at a work-in-progress a few minutes each day.
Finally, aside from illustrating, I also enjoy other things like photography and crocheting. I love recording and reliving memories, while crocheting has a very therapeutic effect on me.
Finally, to show you guys how much I appreciate your support on my new-born blog, here is a FREE Printable Art Quote. Free Art Quote Printable (117 downloads)