a thought about art…

Posted on January 9th, 2011 by


Happy New Year!  Happy J-term!  Happy fun times, cold weather, and a chance to rest and settle into a less rigorous, but still enlightening, month of exploring the world.  I sincerely hope you all are well after the holiday season and in the beginning of a new year.

I got to do some really thinking over this holiday break.  A hearty dose of alone-time was a perfect remedy for the wrap up of a long semester and the whole of 2010.  In my adventures into books and quiet time, I came across a newspaper in a Turkish coffee shop I had never seen before: The City Pages, featuring the cities’ most influential artists of 2010.  The article provoked some of this “thinking” I mentioned, and I want to share some of my thoughts with you.

The article begins with an Andy Warhol Quote: “Why do people think artists are so special?” he said,  “It’s Just another job.”  Warhol always had a knack for stirring things up, and this quote is no exception.  The author of the introduction to this article about artists answers the question that Warhol poses to the world.  The response says, “we hold artists in esteem because accountants, dental hygienists, and bus drivers rarely stir our souls by confronting us with the exquisite beauty and ugliness of life. Bank managers and chemical engineers don’t often connect us with the transcendent. Cashiers and carpet installers can’t pierce us with the unspeakable poignancy of what it means to be alive and human.”

This is a really beautiful portrayal of what art can do, and, though well said, I find it leaves a funny taste in my mouth.  With no disrespect to the arts and to the artists featured in article, what about the carpet layers?  What about the Dental Hygienist and the bus driver and the bank teller?  Don’t they have the opportunity to open our souls to the beauty and ugliness of being alive?  Does the task and the ability to awaken the heart and the mind to the world’s splendor fall only to artists?

I love the arts.  I want to continue to experience art throughout the rest of my life.  In the theatre, in books, in film, in song and on canvas, and I look forward to the opportunity in my life to be thrown open by an encounter with art.  It is an amazing thing that has the power stretch us, shrink us, shake us, and teach us something about ourselves.  And I hope that this ability is not left just to the artists in world.  Nothing in this world is too simple to throw us into life in a significant way.  Often times, being an artist and living for your art can take great sacrifice.  But it takes no more sacrifice than living any life devoted to something powerful that embraces you and opens you to the world, in whatever field you choose.  Though that may not show up on a canvas somewhere, an encounter with a life connected with meaning can have the same affect as any great work of art.

Then again, who’s to say that carpet laying, or engineering, cashiering, or bus driving is not an art?




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