The recent controversy about the content of a drawing created by the artist Kara Walker had a lot of people talking about art. But the problem was that not too many people really think about what art is or isn't. I think it is important that we look at what art really is. Art is not just a pretty picture to look at, art is a form of visual communication. That is the simplest definition of it but it does start the process of thinking about art as more than something of beauty.
Art communicates many things, on every subject known to mankind art is a part of the process of communication.
Art is documentation of our history and a representation of us. We are able to recognize our first presidents by the paintings done of them while they lived. We use art as a means to create patriotic symbols that represent our country and us. Our flag was designed and now anyone who sees it knows what it represents, The United States of America. The Liberty Tree, the Liberty Pole (which few Americans know about anymore), we place art on our money, we have art in many of our public buildings and those public buildings are an art in themselves.
Much of this documentation is also a form of commemoration. We use art to commemorate very specific times and moments in our history and in our everyday lives. Many folks also use art to commemorate family and family history. At one time people would have photos made of the dead sitting in a chair at the wake and some folks would also sit next to their dead loved ones in the photo. People also had paintings created of their dead children as memory and commemoration. We commemorate our pets and even farm animals with art.
Art also is tied to every religion in some manner. Religious symbols, images of gods and goddesses, demons and devils, saints and even people considered holy are everywhere in every religion. Patrons of art and religion can be seen in paintings, stained glass windows and even churches, temples and mosques are named after these patrons. The religious buildings and everything in them are also a form of art.
Art is also used in the process of healing. Shaman, medicine men, witch doctors and other healers use art to help heal the sick. Sand paintings, masks and special tools were created to help bring the power of the healing process to people. These were all created to enhance the power of the healers to help heal the sick and wounded. This helped create a positive role in the healing process for those who needed healing.
Art is political discourse and a form of political protest. Many political groups use a symbol, a color, a special image and even a very particular type of flag to represent who and what they are.
Art is also used in the political process to convey social issues, photos, paintings and sculpture have been used to point out social reform and social injustice. Here is where people get upset over art works. Sometimes this form of art is not pretty at all and upsets the viewer so they lash out and call this form of art, trash, porn or even the sign of a degenerate thinker. If the art makes you uncomfortable that was its purpose, the content is not harmful but the emotion the viewer experiences makes the viewer feel visually harmed. Art does not physically harm anyone but the thoughts they convey make people feel a sense of being harmed psychically. Art does by its very nature manipulate your senses and your emotions. So you as the viewer have the power to see how it manipulates you and come to an understand that it takes two to tango when viewing art. The viewer is not some disassociated part of the process. The viewer is very much an important part of the whole thing. Artists make art to give the viewer many things to think and associate with themselves. If the viewer feels harmed then that is the viewers response to the art. So the viewer should bare the blame for feeling a sense of being harmed.
Art is bought all the time by everyone. We decorate our environment with art, we decorate our bodies with art. Make up, clothes, shoes, jewelry and even hair dye are all a form of decoration of self. We make ourselves art with the things we buy and apply to our bodies. We do this to attract attention to ourselves so we are a form of art too.
Every product you buy at the store uses art in some manner, color and shape and functionality are all taken in to consideration when designing anything we use. Household objects like furniture, dryers and washers, radios, TV's, rugs, cabinets, wallpaper and floor tile, look at everything in your house and you see that ideas and components of art are in just about everything in your house.
You buy your car based on many thing but the biggest part of that is about attraction, you want a particular color, you want a vehicle that says something about you as you drive it about. it is also a form of attraction for many folks. Your vehicle is an artistic representation of you to everyone else.
Even the tools you use are created for function and attraction. You but your power tools and hand tools based on function but also based on attraction. Now many power tools use color as attraction.
Art is everywhere in your life, just look around and count how art touches all things of mankind and then you will understand the importance of art in our everyday lives.
Even your resume is designed for a reason, attraction.
Will you ever like and appreciate all art? HELL NO you won't because as they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".
Don't get angry about art, just understand it and move along to the next piece of art.