What is Art?
In describing the work that we do at Healing Icons, many times I am fearful of using the word ART, as it can be intimidating. It conjures up images of hushed museums and galleries with stark white walls, where everyone is dressed in black, looking very pretentious and serious. Art has become more and more about creating a “sophisticated” product that only a few trained elite produce. There is even a more select group that purchases and collects it. This make me really sad because I truly believe that art is a language every single human being needs access to. Sometimes words are not enough.
So in order not to alienate people or scare them off, I use the softer, more approachable word that the crafty DIY movement has embraced – creativity. Merriam-Webster defines creativity as “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.” I used the words art-making and creativity interchangeably to instill the theme of last month’s blog post, Fear No Art, into everyone’s mind!
Now that we have established what art is, let’s look at …
Why We Make Art
As brilliant artist and philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, “Art is not a thing — it is a way.”
Until recently, the general consensus was that we’d been making art for around 30,000 years, but a recent finding in Java, Indonesia dates our creative desires to over 540,000 years ago. In 2014, a fossilized freshwater mollusk sea shell was found at the Trinil archaeological site, and this shell held a very precise zig-zag design engraved on it. Researchers think the shell was used as some sort of tool for cutting or scraping and that it was etched with a shark’s tooth, surmising that it took a sophisticated level of skill for Homo Erectus to create it. The meaning of the design could have some symbolic significance, or the artist could simply have liked the linear design. Perhaps it was the first art for art’s sake.
“So what does lie behind the apparently universal human urge to create art, an urge that to a modern, bottom-line thinker might seem unnecessary, and to an evolutionary biologist might even seem dangerously impractical and frivolous? One clue emerges when we realize that most art, going back to pre-modern societies, expresses people’s hopes and fears around matters of life and death: finding food, assuring prosperity and safety, curing illness, preventing harm.”
Creativity is Our Birthright!
As modern art has become more of a commodity than an experience, this powerful visual language has been lost to most of us. Art helps us tell our stories about what it is to be human. It helps us understand and celebrate the world we live in. Healing Icons is dedicated to reviving this soulful human language, to demystifying it and making it accessible to all.
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Artistotle
“Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos.” Saul Bellow
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton
Why do you make art?