As originally appeared on the blog, Locks, Hooks & Books on January 14, 2020
This is the simplest question yet the most perplexing. I really needed to sit back and think about it. My answer: No one person, but artists in general. They are people dedicated, indeed compelled, to sift their experience through their aspiration for beauty and wisdom, reconfigure physical stuff or words or images or other display in astonishing ways, and present it to the world. Though undervalued, at least in our society, it is their imagination, their selfless persistence that makes our lives worth living. It is not merely “entertainment” (though it can be that), it is wisdom presented in an aesthetic way, a uniquely human search for beauty that informs us all as to what and how we should be and relate to the world. Art, is, indeed, the highest parts of ourselves.
My long-time mate is an accomplished painter, currently interested in ceramics (she likes to paint “big” and her house can’t accommodate the size canvasses she prefers.) As a mostly abstract painter, it came as no surprise to see her ceramics work: no pots or dishes for her, rather strange configurations of multiple hands clasping, or a forest of sticks the size of rulers all glazed differently, some like twisted pretzels ascending out of a base like frozen, colored lightning strikes. Who thinks that way? Who looks at lumps of clay and sees those shapes? But her work meets my simple definition of art: if you want to keep looking at it, hearing it, or reading it and it resonates with both mind and heart, it’s art.
As a writer, to be sure, good story-telling demands a mastery of craft; yet, sometimes after writing a sentence or paragraph, I revel in front of my keyboard that in the entire history of people on earth, nobody, not once, ever, configured that sequence of words or images or rhythm as I just did.
So yeah, art. It inspires me. And the people who do it are gifts to my life.