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?