Well that was an easy blog post!
Of course I would say yes. I’m an artist in training (ha, that makes it sounds like I have stabilizers on my paintbrushes). But, as an artist I have to question my art in terms of global context. I feel that art courses are often looked down upon as being the easy option, the degree you will get, something for flimsy people who can’t make up their mind, or purely for pretentious people. Basically it’s just colouring in, right? No, it’s fucking not.
The reason I’m typing all my ideas down into here is because I had my doubts whether I was putting anything good into the world, if what I’m learning now will be worth it. Of course not everyone wants to change the world, I don’t even really want to (well some of the shit needs to be eradicated, but we’re working on that…. some of us anyway), but I do want to be a part of the world, I want to contribute.
So I am an artist.
Something you always hear when people are trying to justify/explain art is to say “we hold a mirror up to society” to me that makes us sounds like arrogant twats. We comment on “society” in our individual ways. The world needs academics, it needs people to understand little parts of our world and explain it to us so we can understand, not only explain it but inspire discussion and debate. Art does that. Okay, so we aren’t writing beautifully written papers that are published in epic journals that explain the physics of dropping an apple from a tree right down to the last tiny detail. We do that. We explain the world. We inspire discussion and debate. We do it visually. We’re almost a conduit of information. I don’t understand maths. I could read all the papers published on mathematical theory but I would have the same blank expression going in as I do going out. But the minute somebody puts it into an image, into a painting I get it, for example Da Vinci’s “Vetruvian Man” is based on maths, symmetry and pattern. It uses numbers to create the perfect form (he’s a a great example of an artist who uses visual maths, and now I understand little bits of it that I wouldn’t have got from reading about it). By commenting on little pieces of the world, and not getting too stuck in with all the details, it also means that we can flit between lots of ideas. Just because I looked at kleptomania in one painting, doesn’t mean I have to focus all of my work around that, I could move onto pyromania…FIRE….! We can flit from politics, to environmetalism, to fashion, to love, to sport, to physcology, to fundamentalism, to beauty, to religion, to anything we want and everything we want. I admire the people,the academics who devote their lives to one are of study and I thank them greatly for all the amazing information the throw out here but I think as a race, us artists are flowing and never sticking.
The world does need art.
The world needs art to help it understand. Not to hold a mirror up, because if that’s all we did then we would be replaced by the mirror and the world would not need us. I’m not saying that there is no place for those who paint picture-perfect renditions of fruit bowls, or crafters who produce pretty things. We need those people to make the world a prettier place. Everybody should craft/draw/paint – it takes the edge off and is such a beautiful and productive way to relax. I make jewellery, I don’t make it to make a statement on politics or anything – I make it so people can feel pretty. But I like to think of myself as an artist as well. I want to comment on life. I want to understand life. I want to be happy.
Okay, the world doesn’t need art. It needs artists.
What do you think? Tweet me @chloehenderson9