Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Art of the Matter

One great challenge about being called an artist is that my work gets questioned. A LOT. If a person assumes something about me because they've labeled me an artist, its usually something negative. "He's an artist. Must be gay." (I'm not.) I get a lot of questions about what I do. A typical comment might be something like, "So you can draw, but is it art?"

Andrew and I had a long talk about this. "Is it art?"

The short answer: it doesn't matter. The long answer deals with the "cool" principle and coming a lady folk-singer.

I thought about different experiences and objects and people I thought of as art and tried to find something common among them. I tried to find some criteria to calling something "art". I found that calling something art pretty much works under the "cool" principle. The "cool" principle is: You think that band is cool. I don't. Who's right? Well, its not even really a matter of right and wrong. It's a matter of opinion. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Really.

If I make something and a person happens to think it is a work of art-----that's great. I'll consider it a compliment. If another person, talking about that same thing, says there's no way its art---that's great, too. I'll consider myself lucky to have met someone who knows what they like.

The question "Is it art?" is a question for the person asking. Whether or not a thing I make counts as art or not doesn't change my mind about making the thing. Its like asking a person "which way do I go?" That depends on where you're headed, what you're after, where you've been. I can't answer that for you.
Here's where the lady folk-singer comes in---Aunt Molly Jackson. She used to sing songs to miners to keep the pace and give 'em hope. She said something that made a lot of sense to me concerning our question.

"Propaganda or proper goose; the truth is what matters."

I take that to mean: "Call it art, or don’t. It’s a silly question anyway." The truth! I think a work that is truthful is a genuine work. Its sincere and meaningful. Already, that probably strikes up an image in your mind or a tune in your brain. We already know what it is for us to be genuine. The hard part is being our full self all the time. Fortunately for me, I get a lot of help from others in finding who I am. If I don't have a question about my work, I can always count on others that will.

1 comment:

cassie said...

jess, i'm ecstatic to be reading your blog again. yeah!