Earning the ART Title

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?


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10 thoughts on “Earning the ART Title

  1. Heather June 18, 2012 at 8:48 am Reply

    Omg I LOVE you for saying Kincaid sucks! I hate being an artist in a world where his crap is considered “art”. Rock on :) I totally agree, art is more than something pretty that coordinates with your couch (gag). And by all means jewelry and accessories can be art!

  2. Nicole June 18, 2012 at 9:19 am Reply

    Your TK comment is spot on and I think it makes all of us artists crazy that, “that stuff” he made is so highly regarded with the GP as art. But on the other hand is he in his mind a genius b/c he catered to the GP and made a shit load of money? Was he dis-serving his true inner artist by giving into the masses to make money and not be his true self? Sure its nice having money, but I don’t know if I would be able to make the choice to solely cater to the populace.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns June 18, 2012 at 10:58 am Reply

      I don’t think that selling what the public wants to buy is nessecarily wrong. However, I do think it is unethical to misrepresent what you are selling as a means of convincing people to buy your things. TK got called out because he was having his employees create his paintings for him, and he would just sign his name to sell them for max $$$.

  3. Emma June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm Reply

    When I worked at a bead shop, this lady came in and told me that a few years ago her daughter made a sculpture of the earth out of beads for her HSC Art project (or final year exams) at High School.

    She handed it in and received no marks from it because the people from the HSC that marked it said “that’s not ‘art’, it’s ‘craft'”.

    According to my knowledge, they have since changed their views on ‘what is considered art’ but this poor girl was devastated! I just think that is so wrong.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns June 19, 2012 at 8:07 am Reply

      The poor girl! I certainly hope that they have changed their ideas on what can be considered art or not. I bet you anything her sculpture took her 10 times as long as any other entered piece too! So sad!

    • Joyce Gilliam June 23, 2012 at 8:39 am Reply

      I personally feel that craft is art. Anytime you can make anything from scratch and be able to sell it. It is art. Anytime you can be that talent with your hands that is a gift of art.

  4. Nicole June 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm Reply

    I absolutely love that turquoise beaded necklace. It’s gorgeous!

  5. dorje June 21, 2012 at 2:44 am Reply

    Yes,it is a feeling,
    non discribable,
    Frustration for rational mind,
    it is time to meet our inner self
    and be art.

  6. simplykatielynn July 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm Reply

    It is my opinion that “a work of art” like beauty is a perception only in the eye/mind of the beholder. Art to me is a work created from the gift of a minds imagination, a vision brought to light for the world to see regardless of its simplest or most intricate form.

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