There are a lot of things you can put on the “what art is” side of things, and probably fewer things can be listed on the side of the equation of what art isn’t. But let’s see where we go with this, and for the sake of argument, let’s stick with the visual arts.
Art is evocative. If it’s not, it might be decorative. Art is political, art is apolitical. Art is about stillness, it’s also about motion. Art can be useful, it can be totally useless. We like it, we don’t like it. Art is created with passion; art is created out of boredom. Like beauty, what art is, is in the eye of the beholder, but art certainly doesn’t have to be beautiful. For some, art is about attention to detail, for others it is about freedom from detail. Art is loud, it’s also quiet. Art is personal, art is public.
Art is often self-indulgent, or it can be generous. It can speak the painful truth, or hide our secrets. Art is wild, but sometimes soothing. Art can project the future, or celebrate the past. Art can be blind to consequences, or bring them to the forefront of our thoughts. Art feeds our soul. This mixed-media painting by artist James Mall, titled "Fiery" has me asking questions.
What art is not: Art is not hatred, art is not indifference. Art is not a vacuum. What is your definition of art? --Ruth Mitchell
(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved