Northfield is a town for the arts. The people really work to have an environment where children, teens, adults and seniors are all very active in the arts.
But why do we want art in our environment? How does it help us, what is it good for anyway?
All my life, I have studied art on my own in schools, world renown museums, galleries,in, around and literally on the streets. But what is the purpose of all these drawings and paintings and sculptures and thingamajigs and fancy, raw and courageous doodads, these live plays, musical concerts, movies and street mimes?
Some people say it is all about the artist expressing themselves. Some say a work of art tells a story. Still others claim it’s a cultural device to preserve the ideas of a certain nation, tribe or individual. And all these and more are, have been, and will be true about works of art be it written, danced, acted, painted or built…even the non doing of any of the aforementioned may be considered art by some. Now, I will not try to define art, art types or which art is good or bad, let’s leave that up to the historians, philosophers, critics, judges, and juries. I condemn no art or attempt at art, while I am not happy with the lack of it within society as a whole.
Here is a list of all the reasons I can think of today that art is good for. (My apologies for the dangling preposition in the title and throughout the article.)
I’ll start out with one of my own favorite, art that is good for looking into the workings of another mind in a environment and time the same or different from my own. It is so much fun to see the differences and the similarities in the lives of others. Artists share that information knowingly or not. Each art work often closely reflects the state of mind of it’s creator. I believe that it cannot be helped, for even if the artist was trying to cover up his or her own nature, that very fact would show something about the artist’s leanings.
Then, some artists use art to wrestle with intellectual ideas and concepts. Art can also be used to destroy old notions of art, political beliefs and religious fervor, amongst other things. Sometimes art can be confusing, but if the viewer spends some time working through the fog, he or she may be rewarded generously with a renewed view of the world. Some artists use art to investigate, innovate or destroy the old ways!
Artists may feel an emotional, therapeutic release from creating something beautiful, useful, funny or whatever. For some, art is a stimulant for imagination which spawns more art or art leanings. Art can foster a sense of play and exploration which may lead to a love of learning.
Art can tell stories and those stories may also be lessons in life. Art can show us the way to a good life, good relationships, the joy of good food, clothing and travel, as well as the opposites.
Art can teach us to question, break down barriers of traditional color, lines, forms, movement, subjects, ideas and feelings.
An artist might want to share their vision for the future with us, or show us something that does not yet exist or never will. Art can show vanity, wealth
poverty, and power, the hardships of war as well as the glory or the grand luxuries or the boredom or delight of peaceful times. Art can have political motivation.
Art can recreate reality in different sizes which can upset our notion of what reality is and how it works…while it stirs our imagination. For me, that’s the highest calling of art. Often, the artist will experiment and use new techniques and new material combinations to bring discovery and invention to the society which welcomes it. Maybe an artist just likes to show off, get attention for attention’s sake and that too is a perfectly valid reason for art.
So let us work for art and play at it and let art work for us and or play us…no matter what the rationale!