Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What is art?

What is art?

My definitions of what art can be have been shaped and hammered over the past three years since I've been here at MtA. For my Fine Arts Seminar class, I have to assemble a presentation on an artist I like, and an artist that I don't like.

I've been pondering a lot about this over the past few weeks, as my opinions have changed and will continue to change throughout my life. I've decided to sort of play on that concept.

Before I came to Mount Allison University, my mind was very one-tracked when it came to art. I was very close minded about anything other than realism. When I was 12 years old, I took private art lessons from Cape Breton artist, Marie Moore every week and continued to do so for seven years. When I first showed up in her art class in 1999, her instructions right away were to rummage through a shelf of photographs, magazines, articles, etc. to find a picture that I liked. Her next instruction was to draw it - "exactly" what I saw. Throughout the seven years with Marie, every week consisted of the same thing. I worked on an image I found on the shelf and would either draw or paint it. Marie taught me to regurgitate on paper and canvas exactly what I saw. Marie taught me to paint and draw like her. Marie taught all her students to paint this way. I was surrounded by artists in my private class who all thought this way. I wasn't exposed to anything else. To me, this is what art was. For years, I would inevitably shut down anything that wasn't representational art. Anything else was absurd and irrational to me; I absolutely hated it...

...until I came here.

When I came here, I was bombarded with other peoples' perspectives on art - including students and professors. I learned about the different movements and styles; at first it was overwhelming but I slowly, but surely, grew a fascination for the different art realms. Now, art to me is about taking risks and exploring outside the box. My art very much became about this. I was influenced, shaped and hammered by the artists around me which has pushed me to experiment. My mind is no longer one-tracked, it branches off onto so many different roads it is staggering... but exciting at the same time.

So, you may or may not be surprised to learn that the artist I'm choosing that I "don't like" is Marie Moore. Who is Marie Moore? If you go in any house around Cape Breton you will find at least one Marie Moore print. She paints what the public likes... what the public likes to hang above their fireplaces. She succumbs to the pressures of society to make a living. She very much works within her box. She bases her art on nostalgia, creating paintings that people in Cape Breton can relate to; The Fortress of Louisbourg, The Canso Causeway, Moxham Castle, etc.

But who is Marie Moore? You look at one if her prints, and you see just what it is... a pretty picture, a realistic depiction of Sydney's famous castle... but who is Marie Moore? She in no way conveys herself, feelings or emotions into her artworks. It is what it is. Realistic depictions. Sure, they may be aesthetically pleasing but for the most part it stops there. There's no gazing at works like these and getting lost in them. The process of admiring works like these stops at the surface. The conclusion is already drawn and mapped out for you. You have nothing to interpret.

I'd rather paint what I want rather than what the public wants. I, now, believe that art loses some sort of value after it has been reprinted hundreds of times. Even browsing numerous Facebook photo albums, I see Marie Moore prints hung out over peoples' walls. But WHO is Marie Moore?

Art to me, now, is about taking risks... is about painting more than what you see. It's about painting how you feel, and if people can appreciate art driven on this level than that's truly an accomplishment for its maker. I've learned that I will do everything in my power not to succumb to the pressures of society, painting what other people want. I will paint what I want, and if people love that - then that's amazing.

1 comment:

Nova_Scotian_artist said...

Hello, I am a Mount Allison Graduate in 2005. I found that the peers in my class were all different and that was what was so perfect. My profs had different views of what art was to them and I respected that so much. Art is something, I think is that someone creates and through that creation promotes the emotions of what the image in the artists head or an image through photo means to them. So yes I agree with you about changing your style if it suits you. Your childhood teacher Marie showed the way she paints just like any other teacher would. Obviously it wasn't the style you really felt confortable in but I bet she taught you a lot about colour use, proportion and composition. I am now a professional artist. It's hard getting started but I am confident about it. At first in any career I had to make "bread as well as my butter". (what would sell and what makes me happy), You have to pay the bills. I make prints of my work. It is a way that the middle class can enjoy your work, people that can't afford the price tag of originals. There is nothing wrong with sharing your work to more people. It is never going to compare to the origianl though. This is only a temporary thing, if you do it right. As your name becomes more noticed in the art world and to the public, people will respect your work more. In any profession, you have to sometimes do things that you wouldn't nessesarily do on your own time. If you don't you'll end up being a struggling bitter artist that works at a dead end job that has nothing to do wih art and paints on their free time, unless you know someone that can pull a few strings for you. Anyway, to be an artist is to be open to all aspects of the artist profession. I'm just giving you my point of view. You sound like your very open to opinions and it's your choice in the end. I wish you a lot of success in your dreams for the future.