Art and New Beginnings.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “art” as a skill– “an expression or application of creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting, drawing, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Italian film director Federico Fellini cites “all art [as] autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” Saul Bellow, an American novelist, on the other hand, credits art as “something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos”– his fellow writer/poet Robert Frost claims that what “art does to life is to clean it– to strip it to form.”
In contrast, Russian artist Marc Chagall once remarked: “Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers — and never succeeding.” In Plato’s society in The Republic, art is merely an imitation of an imitation. It is detrimental to the soul and unable to provide any truth.
So what exactly is art? Is it good or bad? A skill or an idea? Does is have to be beautiful or expressive, original or highly intellectual? Must it always need to serve a specific purpose?
Different thoughts and criticisms surrounding this question have persisted for centuries. And it’s safe to say that the definition of art has (and will continue to) constantly evolve. But at least for me, art is all of these things. And so much more.
It uplifts; evokes feelings of nostalgia and happiness. It is a form of self-expression, an act of pure catharsis, and is born out of the everyday ups and downs that bombard our frenzied lives. Sure, it can often times serve a political purpose, giving quieted voices a chance to be properly seen and heard in an alternative manner. Art can make the invisible visible, it can expose truth and create harmony all at the same time.
It is also wildly good for us as human beings. Physiologically it’s been known to reduce work-related stress and go as far as helping cancer patients. Psychologically, it can improve “effective interaction” between parts of the brain, as reported in a recent cognitive study done by neurologists in Germany. It is, interestingly, a natural part of human existence (a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a post about a related study proposing that the human brain was actually made to enjoy art).
Well, art, in more ways than one, has impacted our world (my world) in ways words cannot fully describe. It’s filled empty spaces with beauty and warmth; it’s started protests and caused much concern. Yet, in the end, art is simply something that can be wholeheartedly cherished for a lifetime. It has the power to change, to educate, to create new beginnings– and having recently moved out on my own, I’m all about new beginnings.
Pablo Picasso once famously proclaimed: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Although I’m incredibly frightened (and terrible excited) of all the adventures awaiting me, it’s a comfort to know that I’ll always have my love for art, film, music, and literature. I’ll always have that creative essence bubbling deep inside of me.