- musings by our President, Darren Alexander - As people who are involved with art on both a personal and professional level, we often encounter three reactions to original works of art;
Disbelief: 'Why is that "art"?' Defense: 'My kid could do that!' Defeat: 'I just don't get it.'
Notions of culture such as art, music, and literature are introduced to a small segment of the population through formal education, family upbringing, and life experience. However, unlike other disciplines such as physics or chemistry, we've been conditioned to believe that exposure to culture will enrich our lives and in turn, a lack thereof will leave us unfulfilled and mired in ignorance.
Art is disseminated to the public at a rate unlike any other discipline through galleries, public commissions, festivals, and the media. The purveyors who deliver art to the masses look for appreciation and understanding in return for their contribution to 'cultural awareness'. Few individuals, however, are armed with the basic tools necessary to begin deciphering the movements and changes of art beyond an aesthetic appreciation - therein lies the frustration.
The acceptance and acknowledgement of art is most often hampered by the 'get it' factor. Art is not aloof, in fact, its beauty lies in unbounded accessibility. Unlike the sciences, art allows itself to be evaluated through a combination of intellect, emotion, and sensory response rather that fact or theory. The obsessive expectation for 'meaning' in works of art has created the perception of cultural disparity - the 'haves' and the 'have nots'
Ultimately, if art is to be appreciated at any level, people must give themselves permission to begin evaluating it on their own terms. The appreciation of art is initially primal - for reason unique to each individual; you either like it or you don't. On another level, art has the ability to solicit an emotional response, to draw reaction. Art is a commentary on all aspects of society presenting opinions and attitudes put forward for contemplation. At its most cerebral, the key to discovering 'meaning' lies in the relationship of art to itself and the world. The history of art, like anything else, has been impacted by religion, politics, movements, revolutions, innovators, and failure. If anything is to move forward, it must have a past. Those who have endeavoured to acquire this knowledge discover relationships where others cannot. In a society that strives so desperately to see the 'big picture', we often incorrectly limit the placement of what we're viewing to directly in front of us. Whether perceived or proven, exposure to art does enrich one's life. Why? Because it causes us to react on so many different levels. It also influences so many other areas of our lives, from architecture to advertising, and so many more. Know that sometimes a work of art can challenge the entire perception or direction of the art movement while others may simply be beautiful to your eye. Forgive yourself the impatience to know the difference and congratulate yourself on your interest. Where there is interest, knowledge will follow. In closing, we'd like to offer three pieces of advice the next time you observe a work of art:
ONE: Your opinion is valid. Express it. TWO: Think of a question. Ask it. THREE: If you're still not impressed, move on to the next piece.