“There are some very good interpretations of art listed in the above comments, however, rather than ask myself what is art, I ask; what isn’t art?
Where do we draw the line or do we even have to draw a line? Is it truly art when a person takes a photograph of the mess in their bedroom?”-Friday Philosopher
Ok… so this topic is so totally my bag. I spend the majority of my life dedicated to creating art, enjoying art, or supporting someone who is both creating and enjoying art. So to ask myself this question really pulls me back to my core self.
Why do I care about this thing that seems so undefinable and so intangible, and yet so incredibly moving and something that expresses so much about not only a person, but all of society as a whole?
I asked my friend Lama Tenzin Dhonden, a Tibetan man who chose to join the Buddhist monastery at the age of 9, what the definition of art was. And he smiled and replied to me that art was simply a tangible expression of you.
“It is you,” he said. “It is your essence in material form.”
This struck me as incredibly profound. It’s like your insides turned out. Then I began to inquire a little more about the Buddhist traditions in art. Lama T told me that art is a very important part of the Buddhist culture. The art itself, as well as the process in which the art is created, have huge symbolic meanings to the people who practice this ancient faith. The art projects are also used as tools of teaching and ways to instigate further self-exploration and find a deeper understanding of the teachings.
Now, not being a Buddhist myself, I knew nothing about this type of practice and was very unfamiliar with any style of Buddhist art. So, Lama T continued to explain:
Since the Buddhists believe that it is our attachments (to material things, results or effects in the world, emotions and even our physical forms) that stop us from being fully present and joyful, the art and the rituals surrounding the art represent the letting go of all that you create.
So, they carve sculptures out of butter. They hike the tallest mountain to obtain sand, bring it back down the mountain, create paintings using the sand, and when they have finished they pour the sand and the painting into a bottle and throw it out to sea.
In the Buddhist culture, it’s the process of creating the work that is the true art form. The result of what is created is used as a tool to understand the process of letting go of attachments. The true purpose of art, in this culture, is to understand oneself and one’s own reality on a deeper level. This speaks to what a lot of you were saying about everything in life being art.
I thought this was beautiful. Way way way over my head, but beautiful.
I think my own personal and honest definition of art falls somewhere in the middle. I believe the process of creating is one of the most incredibly challenging, exciting and invigorating processes possible; I seek to go further and deeper with it always.
I also believe that art is meant to move, inspire, communicate, and resonate.
I am not Buddhist and I am not yet enlightened; I’m still attached to things. I rely on the things around me for inspiration and encouragement. I look to a painting to spark clarity and I feel sadness when I lose the opportunity to experience these things.
I think it is interesting that I want to put rules around what is or is not art. In truth, there is a difference for me between a tree in nature and a Rodin sculpture. I recognize this as a confusion of mine because I see how, realistically, we are always creating that which we see. This is the reason my “blue” is different than yours. So ultimately everything we see is our own creation and therefore everything we see is art. But is feels different when the intention is to capture an emotion and encapsulate it into a translatable experience for someone else to try on and learn from.
So I guess, after this long winded entry, I would say art is the communication of my emotional experiences and my internal being. It is married with intention to share and a deliberate focus on singular emotional experiences expressed in a way that is intended to evoke another singular emotional experience; thereby, encouraging you to feel what I feel in your own way.
This spawns the recognition that the thought of segregation and separatism is delusional. We are all humans, experiencing totally different worlds in completely identical realms.
Whoa, Heady! I have no idea of this made sense. Thoughts?