What is art?

This art stuff… What is it anyway?

Don’t you love it when people ask, and you decide to show them, you take them to a gallery and end up with a sore head. Or if you are a student and you think you have it all figured out, think again. Visual Art is many things to many people and I figured I would weigh in with some starting points to consider, so next time someone quizzes you about what art is… throw this at them!

Visual Art may be…

Art seems to be more about a person making objects as part of an ongoing process than it is about creating things of beauty, it will certainly challenge us and as a part of our cultural fabric it becomes a device which can lead us into fresh territory to explore the real and abstract in ways we may feel unsure about.

Don’t expect Art to soothe your soul, it may in fact disrupt your soul, interrupt your rational thinking and aggravate you to no end.

Perhaps “Art” is therefore more about moving or adjusting people intellectually and or emotionally more than it is about notions of Aesthetic sensibility…

Lets combine what art is with some of the benefits or features it may provide.

Visual Art –

Combine this information with this article, and you might just develop a solid starting point to appreciating what this ‘art thing’ explores.

There, now  you know what art is! :)

Consider taking this list with you to an art gallery and inviting the good staff there to indicate which of these descriptors best fit to the works on display… you might cause a stir, now wouldn’t that be fun! :) Perhaps you could become a conceptual artist in the process, who would know?

Visual Art and Community Connectedness

Visual Art plays an interesting role in the community and if you ask practically any Artist they will probably agree, yet to the wider community you may have a challenge on your hands trying to convince them of that. The challenge is multi-fold, getting enough people involved and engaged in exploring it (viewers) and enough Artists to create and exhibit to the wider community, then follow that with selling the benefits to the sponsors and supporters of these sorts of initiatives.

Community based art initiatives show up in some interesting places. Pop up galleries, public murals (and graffiti), online galleries, through to organizations engaging the wider community by supporting Art activities in the community where there are a hundred and one ways  the community can get connected to Contemporary Visual Art.

Be it a school offering to connect Visual Artists with their students (Artist in Residence programs) or in a shorter term burst (an exhibition in the school by Contemporary Visual Artists from the wider community). Or community festivals where Contemporary Visual Artists have the opportunity to connect with the community

Perhaps it’s a series of community therapy sessions for communities which have been through massive group trauma (bush-fires or floods). Or even a simple exhibition as part of a fete or another community event.

Whatever the community connection, the aim is to cause some level of communication to take place, perhaps to instil a notion of community pride, an acknowledgement of the role Contemporary Visual Arts can play or a cultural connection at a personal or group level.

All of this is fine as a concept, but the task then becomes to figure out ways to make that communication effective and find ways to connect in ways which will be of value to both parties, the Artists and the wider community.

How then do Contemporary Visual Artists communicate their visions, their concepts and ideas to an audience which may be indifferent to having objects presented to them which can confront or at the least tackle their own ideas of what’s suitable to look at and make sense of.

I often think there are people to blame (perhaps Art Teachers) for not providing students with suitable knowledge to go forth in the community and appreciate what they see (if even to a small degree.) However I could say the same of high level Science and Maths as just a minor starting point examples.

Should we therefore stop connecting to the wider community even though we have excuses to do so? Should we stop creating Contemporary Visual Art for the community because ‘they might not understand’?

Perhaps the answer lies in seeing youngsters in an Art Gallery being given a cultural ‘shot in the arm’ by well meaning parents. The child’s wonderment and eager viewing through innocent eyes should be the catalyst by which we start measuring the value of things, and having the opportunity to explore that which is visually intriguing and getting fresh views on the world as we know it.

Perhaps the answer lies in Art being for Art sake and the Artists playing Hermit and hiding away, buried in a maze of self consciousness and avoiding connecting in any way.

Whatever the answer I hope the notion of connectedness to the wider community becomes a topic of exploration, so you can test constantly explore the value of Contemporary Visual Art and push it’s meaning/s (or not) due to the community being given wider exposure than might normally be the case.

Visual Art holds a place (although sometimes tenuous) in the psyche of a culturally aware community. I believe we should look to any opportunity to see it, meet with it, tackle whatever it might be it is aiming to communicate (or not) and take in its cultural significance so we as individuals and as a nation can sense some level of connection to Contemporary Visual Arts and what it has to offer.

Community Connections – Cultural Diversions

Visual Arts is a cultural endeavour people either seem to either love or loathe and that can be an interesting conundrum when it comes to community wide cultural development.

Visual Art can be a therapeutic device to assist in a healing process, as a way of communicating and exploring personal and wider cultural concepts. Therefore it can play a strategic role in connecting individuals, organisations and groups to the cultural fabric of the community.

There are possibly a few challenges to overcome for it to stand out as a ‘device’ the community can readily take on.

On so many levels the community can benefit from Visual Art as it can allow connections and exploration to take place. But the challenge seems to be making the wider community aware of its value.

To appreciate the wider benefits of Visual Art this link can give us a range of starting points to take into account.

How do we cause people to appreciate and value Contemporary Visual Art and investigate it as a viable device to connect and explore with?

These are starting points to getting the ball rolling, but surely there are many more? Are there any resources you know of you can recommend? Please add them by making a few notes in the comments.

Community Connections and Visual Art

There are many examples of the Arts connecting with the wider community, however I often find the performance Art areas seem to dominate, so it’s great to see the Visual Arts stand up and get counted with great examples like the St Michaels Grammar School in St Kilda holding their 3rd Annual Art Exhibition and Arch Angel Prize.

Hopefully over time more schools and community minded organisations will forge alliances and add depth to our cultural heritage in a similar way.

As readers of this site will appreciate, I value the role Visual Arts can play for many people. In this case having the ability to bring Visual Art to the Students is a great starting point to exploring it’s value.

I have long been of the view that many Schools should have Art Galleries and provide a ‘portal’ to the Visual Arts for their students, the staff and the wider community to be able to draw upon Contemporary Visual Art as a vital part of communicating, connecting and exploring all aspects of culture to give us greater depths of appreciation for the human condition.

lesley-m1

Lesley Melody – 2011 St Michael’s Arch Angel Award winner – “Lunar Australis”

Collecting and investing in Visual Art

Collecting Visual Art is generally considered to be a past time for the wealthy but has become far more accessible and therefore a positive option for investors who want to seek out its rewards.

One of the big attractions to Visual Art as an investment medium is the recognition of its long term performance by investors who have taken the time to explore and research the Artists and artworks across broad guidelines. It is an asset class which can have the potential for solid growth and can balance out an investment portfolio of shares, property and venture capital.

Investors have often diversified their portfolios in a range of standard asset classes but with market fluctuations, investing in Visual Art becomes a stable, longer term tangible asset with strong growth potential. With less volatility, this asset class often provides solid peace of mind for the astute investor looking for long term growth and solid income streams.

Visual Art purchased wisely, demonstrates a capacity for this asset class to be a long term store of wealth. The true investment value comes from purchasing quality items knowing they are a finite commodity, an asset which can not be repeated.

Investors can enter the market at various levels, and get great results however it often requires suitable advice, appreciation of the Artist, the works you want to acquire and good guidelines to follow. Then the investor should be able to make prudent purchases and in the process become involved in supporting Visual Art Culture.