Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why be an artist?

I do enjoy reading comments from readers - a dialogue is so much more interesting than a monologue! ( unless you're Hamlet contemplating why he should be!! )
Nine-Marie's comment on my last post :"it frustrates me that the people closest to me can't see the potential in a picture or scene that strikes me so strong" leads straight to the why of the artist's "be". I think one of an artist's chief goals is to communicate - to help others see what they cannot, do not or will not see.

Will not see - in the sense of conveying some very negative much more potent is Picassa's Guernica, or the photo of the naked running child in the Vietnam war..or Linda MacDonald's quilts about deforestation....than a factual newspaper account or 10 unnecessarily expensive pages (with "free" gift)from a charity seeking one's support. (sorry, need to get off the soap box on that one!). Most people do not want to think about such difficult things, but terrific impact can be gained in seconds from a compelling visual image.

Cannot see -many people are unable to appreciate the beauty that is around them, that as artists pulls our eyes needs some education - and sadly art education has been cut from many schools- to know how to look. But if we can show them the vast landscape of beauty contained with a single small flower (Georgia O'Keefe), if we can say - this is how to look at things - observe the shapes, the colors, the values, the textures... then we can open their eyes. What magic!

Do not see - everyday life is so busy, and getting busier and busier - people work longer hours and take fewer vacations in the US than in any other "developed" country. When your focus is totally on the dragging minutiae of daily life and work you actually become less efficient - brief art and exercise breaks make a difference. Every work place should have good art displayed, and all the workers given a few minutes every couple of hours or so to stretch and appreciate it!! Also it should be moved around every few months so as to become unexpected. Any manager wanting to increase productivity - think on!!! (as they say in Yorkshire) - you could do a lot worse than buying some good art.

So whenever we think - ar are asked - Why am I doing this?
The overall reason is because Art is Vital.
The first purpose of making art is to Communicate.
Communicate beauty, surprise, enchantment to uplift and refresh but also to communicate horror, disgust, fear to help motivate people to change.

And I think the second thing (for me anyway) is to Develop skills so that the communication becomes ever more powerful and clear. Of course there are many other motives after that could be added to the list:money, fame and glory (ha!), personal growth, satisfaction and enjoyment (yes!).

well, if you have been - thanks for reading! And please comment! Elizabeth
(Sorry no pictures today, I'm writing from an alien computer).


Jackie said...

Nina-Marie's comment about others not seeing the potential in a scene is a familiar feeling for me. I am sometimes overwhelmed with that feeling and others simply cannot see anything special but they do concede with an 'Aha' when the quilt is made. I think the seeing is a lovely gift and the sharing almost requisite. My husband doesn't see what I see, but he knows that what I see is worthwhile.

Jackie said...

One more thought has occurred to me about the artist--there is a need to express one's self. It may not be seen by many or understood but expression is a need. Communication would be very nice, but getting it out there, making it flesh, is the goal.