In these troubled times (an introduction applicable to any era; we stay the same, the nature of the problems change) there is plenty of reason to pause and feel thankful. This is my little list of reasons why I am thankful for art:
Art reminds us of the beauty of the world.
It’s too easy to get caught up in everyday activities and forget the stunning natural world around us. This includes our favorite bit of nature – ourselves – and our myriad natural states. Wisdom comes when you know where you are and with whom and what you are surrounded. Small beauties or large, subtle emotions or gross, they are the vocabulary of existence.
Art reminds us that the world of ideas is as deep as the natural world.
Abstraction is not separate from nature. It is elements of nature taken from their context and presented in isolation. As such, they become a world unto themselves. It has always amazed me that people have trouble appreciating abstraction, but then they would be equally baffled by a novel cut down to only one character’s dialogue – or perhaps the adjectives or verbs from one character’s dialogue.
Art is revolution
For better or worse, artists are seen as outsiders, condemned to decrepit factory buildings where studio space is affordable, or resigned to sit at the servant’s table with the cook and the groundskeeper while the lords and ladies dine elsewhere. Rebellion is not only tolerated (to some extent, depending on the historical period) it has come to be almost required. However, sometimes rebellion is to act contrary to expectations. If artist=rebel, then an artist can rebel by not rebelling. I’m not sure that actually works, but the theory is sound. There are plenty of artists who seem to be not rebelling, purposely. We’ll see how many of them amount to anything.
Art is everywhere
One huge error in today’s educational system is the assumption that art is a creature unto itself, wholly separate from “the real world.” Everything should be taught, and the interconnectedness of vastly different systems would make it clear that life without art is not fully life, just as art is essentially dependent on life. If you’re not taught that art is in every thing and every person, no wonder you plod through life not seeing it.
Once a year is not enough to see, much less cherish, the vastness and wonder of us and our surroundings. How anyone can live in the world, with eyes open, and not be deeply and permanently in love with it, is a mystery to me. Artists are environmentalists, because there is nothing else. Raise your glass, look out the window, look at those around you. Everything you see and feel is art.