January 26, 2016
Any type of art practice is the consistent, structured application of practices and methodologies to concepts that centre around meaning making and communication. The process is integral to the result. It is multi-disciplinary, experiential, and is self validating through the need to create and make sense of self and /or one's relation to one's experience of the world.
It is more than a hobby, it is primarily about meaning making and the joy of creating. It is not a substitute for a mediocre or safe or conventional life. It enriches life and in turn life enriches the practice. It is as much about exploration as it is about expression. An exploration of self, of who you are, a way of relating to and interpreting the self and the world around us. It is multifaceted, as it integrates life, philosophy, meaning, reflection/meditation, contribution, and a heart felt sense of joy from solely focussing on the love of the medium. Just as jazz lost its way from the separation of life in the clubs to jazz education in institutions nation-wide, the soul of the art of jazz was lost, only to be come a much more intellectually dry miasma of dazzling technique and concept, a great ability to play anything that has gone before, but a near-complete absence of the ability to move another person on a basic gut level. This 'progression' is more based on the development of a 'career' in jazz than it is on life, soul, meaning, creative exploration and development.
Degrees in Fine Art have trended the same way, with an overtly manufactured career path in social relevance, a particular political claim on an individual, as if to say, 'I am a contemporary artist, I comment on....in my work, and I seek to influence the viewer in this way.....' Immediately the word contemporary takes us into the politics of 'status, title, position', the need to stake one's claim in the field of art practice to stay relevant. The word 'influence' is subtlety reinforcing the 'importance' of the artist. The assumption is the audience needs influencing, and that without this level of sophistry or complexity, there would be no art and everything would be 'base'. All of this gets in the way of the simple, direct, pure enjoyment of an art practice, such as photography, or music, as a medium. It is fine to have the aim to make money, but if this is the primary aim, then the art suffers, and both the individual pursuit of the art is diminished, and the resulting appreciation of an art practice by a general audience suffers too. You may sense the values underpinning what I am writing here, and these may differ from your own. Other agendas can exist, but not at the expense of other points of view.
To me, the purpose of a legitimate art practice is fundamentally aimed at the overall joy and satisfaction that one gets from the love of this aspect of the medium, pure and simple. There are no other bold claims such as making money, turning it into a career, gaining recognition, whatever. The 'modus operandi is "art comes from life', and that the value of satisfaction in one's life is highly esteemed and recognised as transcending the lure and hope of commercial return. Yes potential for monetary reward is there, and that's ok too. But let’s not stray too far from the fact that a life is a total experience, which includes the myriad of hopes and dreams, disappointments, surprise wonders, toil and boredom, relationships, influences, and ever changing conditions. Whatever the reasons for creating art, a congruence of a self, a life, a heart, boil down to one thing – what do you have to say?
Text copyright 2016 Darren J Harris