Despite its universal influence, art is ridiculously relative. Seriously! Think for a moment about whichever avenue of art that you’re fascinated with, be it painting, music, dance, poetry, whatever. Now in under a minute, try and explain the feeling that it gives you. Not in random wordy “terminology” but try to really really explain how it makes you feel. Why do you like it? What about it is powerful enough to give you an emotional response? What is art? How do we define something that can mean something completely different to each individual person? I decided to ask a writer, a minimalist, and a fashion illustrator their for help in my struggle to understand this, by asking a simply complex question: What does art mean to you?
” There’s no limit to what art has to teach us. Take a painting, for example: In the white space we can find a lesson in simplicity. In the colors lie a message of unity. In the composition, a lesson in organization and managing what might otherwise be an ugly mess of unwanted shapes and figures, events and people.
When I encounter art in any of its forms–a painting, a sculpture, music, film–I cannot help but focus on only that. It’s not that everything else disappears, but rather that it all fades gently into the background. It’s like the world and all of its problems, stresses, and troubles still exist, but that’s okay, because at the center of it all is this amazing piece of art. It’s grounding. It brings me back to the present, to “now,” and I do my best to take that with me when I leave.”
“What art means is more of a feeling than an objective opinion that can be put into words. At a glance, it tells the history of the artist, those who have influenced them and their state of mind. Art surrounds us on a daily basis, and can be found in anything — even the most mundane of objects.”
“The pure idea of art seems so complex to me that my brain scrambles at the taught of it. And whenever someone claims to understand it or tries to pinpoint it to one single point, I think how naive they must be. Result of this is that I have no idea what art is to me.
All I know are little images, kind of memories of feelings I have. Story my father tells me over and over again how my favourite book when I was 2 was a book on Picasso… how I used to stare for hours at Jean Louis David paintings… How I can listen to entire Carmina Burana numerous times…. How I felt overwhelmed first few times I came to Tate modern. Things like this.
I rationalize so many things in my life and this is one place where I want to stay completely intuitive. Of course I realize this might be a lazy way of understanding art, and if it is…then bummer. :-)”
Each response made me smile. When reading their words of description you can almost see their thoughts and inspirations in their eyes . But even after all of this, I’m not sure we answered the question I raised. How do we define something that can mean something completely different to each individual person? . . . In my opinion, we can’t really, and I think thats the point I’m trying to make.
Bob Dylan is an excellent example of this. When asked why or how he got to where he was as an artist, he seemed almost frustrated at people’s attempt to to understand and classify. I realize that by writing this post I might be going against that principle that I claim to try and abide by ha ha. But I do so not out of an attempt to define or compartmentalize. But in an effort to encourage the embracement of the art that we can find in our everyday life. The world we live in is constantly spinning faster and faster. If we take the time to stop at beauty and be inspired, art will enrich our lives.