What is Art? The Quest to Re-Define Creative Living
The word “art” has been watered down through years of vague use. Rise ‘n’ Shine Arts calls beauty seekers to redefine this tossed-around term. We’re beckoning you to re-kindle the word “art” with color, passion and intrigue through re-awakened creative living.
As a concept, “art” has no doubt gotten its fair share of soul-battering analysis—quite to the contrary of the soul of art to begin with.
I recall sitting in my undergraduate art history class listening to hours of lecture analysis that would take place over a single painting. I wonder if the artist actually ever put that level of rational thought into the painting? Maybe, but probably not.
SO many times I wanted to just raise my hand and say, “maybe there’s no meaning. Maybe they just painted it for fun, because it felt good.”
I know that’s why I paint. Usually, whatever “meaning” is in the painting somehow makes its way from my heart onto the canvas without me knowing. It might dawn on me later, but most of the time, I’m just along for the ride. And that’s the best, most healing part about it: the process. The act of painting. The act of creative living.
What in the world is art?
So, what is art? Is it the magic that happens during those perhaps-rare moments that your sense are attuned, your heart is wide open and your most-perfected skill is expressing itself, simultaneously?
Is it a daily practice, a craft, a hobby? Is it a thing or is it something we do? Is it stuff that hangs in galleries, performances that travel the world, the creative caress of a lover’s touch, or the way someone plants a garden?
Personally, I think art is all those things.
There is an aspect central to the way I personally like to define art that I think is important to understand, before we even slap a definition on the concept. That aspect is this:
Art is what makes us human.
This may seem a strange way to begin defining the term—using it descriptively before explaining it—but the reason this is critical to understand is because at the root of art is creativity; the ability to create. Creativity makes us human. We are designed for creative living.
Think about it. In today’s tech-driven world, what separates AI from the human brain and the human heart? Emotion. Creativity. AI can create, based upon pre-programmed patterns. And while one may argue that we, humans, create based upon nervous system wiring, we also create using the fuel of originality and emotion. This fuel is what inspires creative living.
Whether that creative living and “creation” is a touch, a song, a painting, a garden, a plate of mouth-melting flavors, or a gathering of soul-inspiring connection, that creation is stimulated by feeling.
If I had to sum up this expansive, beyond-linguistic-bounds concept, in a simple phrase, it would go something like this:
Art is both a verb and a noun. It is what we do and what we create when we are fueled by emotion. Art is what happens when we synthesize that emotion with the intellect of our minds and the skill of our hands, our bodies, or our language. It is the act of creative living.
Art can be a garden. It can be a love song. It can be the way someone rakes leaves, arranges fruit on a plate, or the way someone sculpts stone. It can be digital, painted, sculpted, sung, moved, spoken, breathed, eaten, felt and heard. Those are just mediums. Art is the substance, the idea, the feeling and the skill, in one magical package.
Why art matters
Creativity, which produces art, is what makes us human. Creative living is what sustains us.
It is what continually ushers us into novelty, wonder and excitement. It is what inspires and makes us feel like children, experiencing something new.
Creative living is what sinks us into the here and now and stops our bustling minds from solving the past and fabricating future problems.
Art is integral to our humanity. Creative living is medicine to our bodies and central to our soul survival.
Art is the expression and the manifestation of our emotions. And our emotions distinguish us as living, changing, vibrant beings experiencing a spectrum of feelings. The more we allow ourselves to experience these emotions and use them as the fuel behind our thoughtful, creative skill, the more alive we become.
Creativity as medicine
I can think of no greater medicine than creativity. Creative medicine takes many forms: dance, song, conversation, painting, movement, intimate connection, play, gardening, etc. But the energy that moves all those things, when done in an original and feeling-fueled way comes from the same source: our innate vitality and creative instinct; from our human-natured craving for creative living.
Why is creative expression so healing? Because we are all byproducts of creativity. We are each little morsels of art, ourselves, sailing and colliding through space together. And the really cool part? We’re all, unanimously, part of a single larger work of art: this Earth-organism.
That earth-organism is part of a more enormous piece of art: the solar system. And the solar system is one component of an even more astonishing work of art: the galaxy. And the galaxy is part of a universal work of art. And frankly, who knows what’s beyond that. It just keeps going. And going...