Saturday, July 4, 2009

Your Opinion Matters

I love "Play-Doh." When I was six I created snakes, dogs, pigs, cups, buildings, and complete landscapes out of the stuff. I'd show off my creations, then smash them up and start all over again. Occasionally we'd keep a cup & saucer until it turned into a brittle piece of clay that no longer could be re-used. Today if I created a cup & saucer I'd probably use modeling clay or potter's clay. I'd probably go with a potter's wheel and try "throwing" the items as they spin. What's remarkable is the vastly different end result. Today I'd be left with a "piece" or "work," regardless of how misshapen or unusable it might be. If I used "Play-Doh" today to create a cup it would be laughed at as a joke if I displayed it as a "work." But why the difference? If you say "Because it's Play-Doh!" then we should ban Play-Doh and only sell potter's clay. That would make every six year old into an artist! If that's not true, then why the difference?

Have you ever heard, "If he jumped off a cliff would you jump too?" If enough people think something is worthy of being called "a work of art," then so it is. How unfortunate that gang mentality could affect something as moving as art. Art is based on your personal experiences and perceptions. Art is created as someone puts their own emotions, skills, and pride into the creation of something of beauty. When others experience it, that emotion and sense of pride is transferred by our appreciation. But "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." My sense of beauty has been shaped by my experiences. The things for which I have greatest appreciation are likely very different from yours. In other words, art is individualized.

If you tend towards negativity, you might immediately conclude, "This guy has no culture. He's one of those people who would think Picasso's work was a general mess." You'd undoubtedly be correct, but you should know that it is possible to appreciate something  based only on the fact that others find it intriguing.

The art that I find most attractive is that which moves me personally. It is based on my experiences and those things which I value most. And why shouldn't you? Art is created as someone puts their own emotions, skills, and pride into its creation. If witnessing that moves you, doesn't that make it "art" for you?

The fallout from this is far reaching and very satisfying. Aside from allowing me to appreciate a car or truck which has been modified in ways the casual observer would never notice, it also means that you too can find art in the most mundane of places. A field of beans planted around the contour of the earth by a skillful tractor driver is a beautiful thing. Sheetrock, hung and mudded so it turns into one giant wall without a seam, can be a thing of beauty because of what you *don't* see. A lawn, so perfectly manicured that it looks as if each blade of grade were individually cut by hand, can be so beautiful as to stir emotion. Taken to the extreme, anything and everything you do is art. The pride and skill you use becomes evident to the knowledgeable audience. Take pride in what you do and appreciate the job you've done. Chances are someone else will too. For the two of you, you'll connect on an artistic level. Witness the world around you and let "art" stand on its own merits. Your opinion matters too. In is really the only thing that matters.


John Dorner said...

Very profound. I like it!!!

You keep surprising me :)

John Dorner said...

Found this quote and thought it fit here just perfectly.

"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."
-- Charlie Parker