Lately I’ve been reading a lot about art. Maybe its just a mid-life crisis… or maybe because I make pictures, play music, do writing and finger rub foggy mirror hieroglyphics in the bathroom, I should know what constitutes art.
So what is art and what is an artist? Well… defining art is like trying to define soul… or spirit… or love. Entire books have been written on the subject. Several definitions are currently in vogue and are passing through the internet ether. “An artist makes art” and “Art is something made by an artist”. Hmmm….
When the idea of art is discussed further, the one thing that all the discussions had in common was the idea of connection. The art books I have read suggest that a creation is not art unless it meets an audience. Art has to be experienced by others for a connection to be made. Without connection there is no art. An example often cited is that a musical composition is just notes on paper. It isn’t art until it is performed for an audience. The extension for photographers is that our digital images, negatives, or prints are not, nor can ever be, art if we hide them away from the world. Creations you make must be shared. If, when shared, your work makes a connection with someone then and only then can it be judged as art.
So… if I make a drawing, write a song, compose a poem and just keep it to myself, it’s not art? The inner connection, spirit and joy of pure creation is not enough for a piece to be art? Does this mean that I can’t enjoy my own pieces as art because it’s not art unless I share? What about connecting back to yourself, does that not count? Unless I make an external connection with others with my creation, I will never produce art?
Author, Seth Godin has said “Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another.” According to Seth, art is personal (reflects the artist), is untested (original), and is intended to connect. My question lies in the third premise: is connecting with your self enough?
What do you think? Do creations need an audience beyond the creator to be considered art? Or should we just create for the joy of it, just like kids play… for pure joy? If we feel like sharing our creations then so be it. If we don’t then that’s just as valid. Do we even need to worry if what we do is art or if we are an artist? Are labels worth anything?
I would love to hear your thoughts – but be careful – by sharing you could be making art 😉