Tag Archives: Arts

Am I Good Enough?

PART II

In Part I, the broad question about the importance of art in our world was addressed. I now wonder, Am I good enough? How can I improve?

I’m afraid I will never believe I am good enough. But I am determined and can’t seem to quit being an artist so I might as well improve and learn as much as I possibly can. In order to improve, I enrolled in undergrad art classes four years ago at a local university. In the back of my mind lingered an idea, the same one that has whispered in my ear for over 15 years. Will I ever be able to study art in graduate school?  Driving to class one day, while my children were at their school, I thought, maybe I can do it. But do I really have the energy and ability to work, raise children and be a graduate student? As it turns out, there was really no question. I knew I had to try.

Now, miraculously, the end of the painting graduate program draws near and something that seemed so distant, so impossible, so large, looming and challenging is shifting before my very eyes from being right in FRONT of me to right BEHIND me. And it has been both daunting and dashing. The workload has crushed me and elevated me. The professors are critical and accepting. They demand and they give. And it has been hard and easy – hard because I have such a tremendous amount to learn and easy because I am infinitely grateful. Waiting for so many years to return makes the opportunity to study on a graduate level feel like a dream…a figment of my imagination that has finally shifted its way into the real world.

Though the workload has been great, when you love something, the work becomes a joy. That is what the program means to me – not a piece of paper or a line item on my resume.  The school experience has allowed me to see improvement in my work and in my ideas. More importantly, I am learning about the meaning of art, the purpose of art in our world, and the history of art. I am beginning to consider how all this applies to the work I create.

Now that the end of the program is near, a shift in work focus is eminent.  Instead of working on technical skills, I am working on ideas and how best to present the ideas. In the book, Why is That Art, by Terry Barrett, the author dedicates a section to Aristotle and how his studies apply to art. He believed successful artwork presents a subject in a way that invited the viewer to THINK and that art provides us with knowledge of the world. Barrett explains that the successful artist uses expression to present nature without relying only on mimetic skill.

And this leads me to another topic for another time – deciding what ideas to express and how to do so. Until then, thank you for your time! Off to work!

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Can I Be An Artist? Asking Questions and Finding Answers

PART I

The more I study other artists, both contemporary and historical, the more I question what I do and why. There is the broader question, of course, why do I make art when there are so many other ways to work in this life? As Bauhaus artist, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy stated, “Can I assume the privilege of becoming an artist for myself when everybody is needed to solve the problems of simply managing to survive?” I’ve pondered this question related to my own decision to create art and here’s what I conclude:

Art teaches us to problem solve. It helps us realize our ideas and our feelings. Creating art and viewing art in a thoughtful way helps us understand each other and ourselves. In thinking about the power and purpose of the images and texts in our lives, I am reminded of American Pragmatist, Richard Rorty, who believes, “our task is to sensitize ourselves to the suffering of others, deepen and expand our ability to identify with others, think of others as being like ourselves in morally relevant ways, and reduce suffering and combat cruelty.” (see Why is That Art? by Terry Barrett) Through the creation of imagery and objects, I believe artists can achieve Rorty’s romantic idea of compelling viewers to be more understanding of each other and our circumstances.

Art offers us a visual to the complex issues of our time. And when it is collected, printed in books, and exhibited in galleries and museums, it can serve as a guidebook illustrating society’s most pressing issues and the human condition of the time.

Art can’t be suppressed. As long as there humans, there will be creation. We paint, draw, sculpt, weave, knit, carve, sew, stitch, blow, melt, design, build, craft, band, imagine, throw, fire, print, grind, mold, mix, cut and weld. We use our senses and our minds and our hands. School budgets can be cut, math and science can be favored. Though without this activity, the activity of creating art, there would be nothing. To answer my initial question and the question of Moholy-Nagy, I realize, how can we not be artists?

With that thought, I’ll say good-bye and thank you for visiting! Next week, in Part II, I’ll ask a question many artists ask themselves, Am I good enough?