what art can do

We turn to art because it is the greatest expression of humanity available to all –

 Cheryl Ann Thomas, Vessel 107 (2014), porcelain

Art is important both on a personal and on a collective level, it can make those of us who feel on the outside, feel inside. It can touch those who have lost touch, it can connect us to ourselves and to society. It can show us where we could go if only we would. Art can help us define our sense of self, and at the same time it facilitate new meetings. Art can unite and divide, challenge and dismay, inspire and offend. Art can arouse our emotions and feed the human condition.

The poet Lemn Sissay says: Art bridges the gap between the spiritual world and the physical one. At time’s of great need – trauma, loss, celebration, reunion, hope, introduction, – we need the bridge. We need art. It’s why there is song. It is why there is poetry. It is why there is dance. It is why there is music. What can art do? Art can saves lives.

In words slightly less poetic, Roberta Smith said: Art gives people the tools to see above the trench of existence and see how the land really lies. People who deny others access to the arts want us to go to work, come home, play stupid video games and never be able to ask a decent question. Art is a way of – and a place where – ordinary people can ask decent and unordinary questions.

 

 What art can do is what it does!


Cheryl Ann Thomas graduated from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California in 1982, and she lives and works in California. Having studied as a painter, and worked as a grade school teacher for several years, Thomas emerged as a ceramic sculptor in the late 1990s.

6 Comments

  1. If this were what art was, I would not make art, or poetry is not art. It might be said that with 15 published books of poems, 5 unpublished ones, and a dozen other published (and 5 unpublished) books, of which 6 are prose so poetic we might as well call it poetry, and all-in-all 100,000s of thousands of hours poem-making, that what I make is poetry, but it might also be that it is not poetry, either. It could also be that the “we” used here is not descriptive of any identity that could be applied to me and I am not human but something else. All is possible. By common definitions, though, and general appearance, it appears that I am human, though. As a teacher of the writing of poetry, I have worked at length to help other people work with poetry as a bridge between worlds, but not as a gap-bridger. There is no gap. I have no interest in qualifying that one. Maybe other people experience gaps. I don’t. As a viewer of art, this definition doesn’t work for me, either. Again, that could be because I am, possibly, an especially terrible viewer of art, although I sure love the stuff. Or it could be that these definitions are only specific to certain cultural groups, to which I don’t belong. I have no idea. I love your blog and the art you bring and your quest. I just thought I would point out that, from my point of view, if it is worth anything, this definition is only specific to a certain group, whoever that might be. If I were to try to define the group, my biases would show. It may be enough to define art in the terms of a particular social or cultural or national group, but, if it is, then I will turn away from art to find art, because what I call art or what I look for in it would not be within this definition. Many good wishes, Harold

  2. A beautiful art work! I immediately thought of desert tribes with their face coverings against sandy winds; of women who cover their
    faces in modesty or through coercion. So much movement. That base worries me just a little though.

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