Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Is Art?

I'm very prejudiced.  I don't think all "art"  is art.  My friends will (generously) put up with my vociferous  bashing when I see a piece that is supposed to be "art" but is really ripping off the viewer, the person who may have commissioned it, and those of us who actually work at our craft.

So what is art?  And what should it do?  This is a question that has consumed many dinners.  My husband's concise response is that art does three things:

* Art nurtures the soul.
* Art shelters the soul.
* Art interests the soul.

That's it.  And that's a lot.  Does it need to do all three at once?  In other words, as an example, can art only interest the soul without sheltering or nurturing it?  I'm not sure, but I don't think so.  There is something about the arrangement of colour, form, design, texture, that attracts us and actually makes us pause to imbibe.  Hence, it does all three if even for a second or two.  Our soul becomes attached, if even in a small way, to what we view, smell, see or hear.  And that attachment becomes a union.  We have what Martin Buber might describe as an "I-Thou" relationship with the creator and with the environment that we are sharing.

So next time you are out and something catches you, ask if that thing of beauty is nurturing your soul, sheltering your soul and interesting your soul.