Do you have something to say? Something you can’t ignore? Something hard to articulate in plain language? It’s time to get creative…
What is Art?
People often ask ‘what is Art? What is it for?’ I would suggest it’s the expression of the inexpressible. It’s a way of communicating ideas and feelings that can’t be put into words. Let’s be honest, there are plenty of situations in which words won’t cut it. Frankly, I’m struggling right now.
One of the limitations of written or spoken language is its linear form. Visual art allows the viewer to roam from one image to another, forming connections and patterns in her or his own mind. Sound may appear to be linear but the use of motif and repetition similarly creates patterns that transcend temporal constraint.
The Proverbial Tree
But what makes this ‘art’ is the intent behind the creation. The desire – on the part of the artist – to communicate is what provides depth and meaning. Often the meaning itself may not even be clear to the creator. However, the need to impart ‘something’ will render the work meaningful to its recipient. Even if the perceived message is other than that originally intended.
As someone who has spent a lifetime in the pursuit of art, I am constantly fascinated by what my creations mean to those that encounter them. Indeed, a piece of art could be said to be like the proverbial tree in the forest. If a painting has nobody to view it, does it really exist at all? Yes, it does – but is it then art?
Intension to Communicate
All of which may contradict previous musings on the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’. But there need not be a conflict. The process of creation is certainly its own reward. And it’s undoubtedly good practice to produce work regardless of whether an intended audience exists. However, what imbues this with meaning is the intention of communication.
At the point of creation, it may not be clear what the outlet for a creative work will be. But this should be no impediment to completing it. The fact you feel the need to say something, regardless, demonstrates that you have an artistic statement to make. So make it.
In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that the best art avoids pandering to any expectation of how it will be received. True expression is, thus, ego-less. Rather than aiming to provoke a specific reaction, the creation is a pure expression of ideas, feelings or both. The artist doesn’t try to dictate how this will be received or interpreted. Rather they give freely of themselves, secure in the knowledge a recipient will form their own opinion or reaction.
In an educational context, this provides pupils with an excellent opportunity. They are consistently asked to perform specific tasks to achieve designated outcomes. In creating something for its own sake, however, they have license to just ‘do’ – and, even, just ‘be’.
With ever fewer freedoms and ever greater constraints, this is hugely beneficial. Children desperately need self-expression. The chance to turn this into something productive may just prevent that urge from becoming disruptive or, even, destructive.
So, what do you have to say? How would you like to say it? Are there no words to express what you are feeling? Then it’s time to get creative.