Yes, this post is exactly what you are thinking it is: a word devoted to defining art. I am not going to define art, necessarily. I only know what I have seen and experienced as a teacher of art for over twenty years. I have struggled for all this time with the notion of what Art is and who are those societal figures that determine a thing to be Art. Now, we will consider some thoughts about Art that are foreign and more than a little irritating.
SCAD Campus Lacoste, France
It is a real place.
In truth, I am not interested in posing answers to the questions I will be asking. I am much more fascinated with stirring up ideas. My hope is that our considerations will be like looking through this window. It is a photo I took in Lacoste, France. This is the way of us today. We look. We listen. We consider. I encourage you not to be easily swayed, as I am not. However, I do recommend that you soak for a moment in a given idea, rather than rushing forward to make the idea fit into your already established sensibilities. Ruminating rather than reacting is a wise course of action with ideas as weighty as those we plan to ponder.
Also, as I begin, I apologize for the harsh title. It is never polite to tell someone to shut up. In my defense the imperative was used as a grasping ploy for your attention. My hope is that it worked. Unless of course you are one of the twenty-five of my friends who read my writings as proof readers, then no apology is necessary.
Furthermore about the title, it is ludicrous. As is the argument of what makes something art, and the preposterous idea of people who define art for an entire culture. Both argument and assertion are absurd, though TRUE! All that is written about here can be seen in our world today. There is Art that defines culture. There are people who determine what is seen as Art. These two actualities make the argument against the proposed ideas of the book a frivolous waste of energy. Thus, the title or the command to Shut Up. Before you do so though, consider the following: unless we move forward with an open mind regarding the most significant ways in which humanity communicates/shares its most substantial thoughts about self, our worth, our brokenness, our World, the Other, and further concepts so vital that words cannot express them, then we have no foundation for argument.
Therefore, the crude encouragement to just shut up.
However, if with an open heart and mind we can reckon the length, depth, breadth and height of Art, how it got here, what makes it thus and how to discuss it, then we have a way of appreciating not only the artist, the curator/collector, but ourselves and our relationship to one another and, of course, the Art.
Let’s get started.