While I was attending college as an art major, there was one heated discussion that could never really be concluded decisively. The red-hot topic was that one, over-arching question in regards to our choice of what to do with our lives: “What is art?” or more definitively, “What gets to be called art?”
Textbooks abound with various definitions ranging from the purpose of a piece, to the aesthetic arrangement, to the perceived interpretation of its viewers. I could go on and on about the facets of art theory and the debates that have occurred from the academy prior to the Renaissance age to the Avant Garde controversies of the 50’s and 60’s. But if you’re REALLY interested in all that, there are more than a billion or so sources you can choose from to delve deeper. Or you can go to art school, like I did, and learn ALL about why Thomas Kincaid’s work sucks.
I’m just going to give you my brief opinion, which I am sure some of you will disagree with, but that is nature of such discussions.
I define art as “a way of seeing,” and I think that an object (or performance) becomes a work of art once it goes beyond its initial utilitarian purpose. I see some of my creations as art, some of them not.
Traditionally, people tend to think of anything that is 2D and hangs on your wall as art, and anything that is 3d and has a utilitarian purpose other than decoration (like a sculpture) is not. I disagree. I think that a picture whose only purpose to to match your couch or decorate a wall is purely utilitarian, and is not necessarily art. Hence, why Thomas Kincaid’s pieces aren’t considered art by the art community. I personally have painted stretched canvases with images I would consider to reflect more than just a pretty picture, and I have also painted ones that were nothing but a means of decoration. A pretty fairy against a soft yellow background isn’t meant to be anything more than something to hang on a wall, and that was the reason I created it. No shame in that.
As far as handmade creations beyond the two-dimensional, I think that art can be found among much more than the sculptural. As a creator of jewelry and hair accessories, I think I can consider my pieces works of art when they fulfill the following requirements:
- Original design
- Created with a level of advanced skill
- Represent or speak to something more than a pretty accessory
I think I have some items I can consider works of art, and some that are merely pretty pieces of jewelry meant to match an outfit.
I feel that the same rules apply to ceramic artists (who often create utilitarian pieces), fashion designers, glass artists, and so on. For me, the ability hang a piece on a wall does not automatically make it art, and the ability to use a piece for something other than visual pleasure does not automatically make it not.
What do you think of my definition? Spot on or way off? How do you define art?