Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What is Art?

Last week, a friend of mine came down from Connecticut to visit. On Saturday, we went to the North Carolina Museum of Art. We took a stroll through the East building* where all the contemporary art was located. As we looked at the photography there, I got to thinking. Who makes the determination as to what is considered art, and what is not? There were photographs there that anyone could have taken. I don't mean to insult the artists, but there wasn't really anything special about the composition of the photos, or the lighting, or anything else. I could have taken those pictures.

I decided (and I told my friend this) that I don't think that I would ever want my work to be in a museum. I think that the art world is a little too pretentious. It is fairly clear that the determination as to what is "Art" is made my some big wig, with lots of money. If they like it then it's "Art". The only real fair determination of what is good art is when the decision is made by the masses. This all reminds me of an art competition at my former school.

The poetry club was looking for a piece to use for the cover of their tenth anniversary poetry compilation (a rinky dink club really), and they put out flyers requesting submissions for art. The prize was two hundred dollars. I submitted some pieces, but other people in the school kept telling me that what I submitted didn't really represent the name of the club. Well, no one really specified whether the work should represent the club, or poetry itself (I decided that representing poetry would be the best option). In the end, the group decided that it would be easier to use photographs for their cover. They chose a photograph taken by a kid who was a well known brown-noser. There is no doubt that he knew the teacher that was heading up the poetry club, and I am sure that he spent a little time on his knees kissing her behind. Oh, the picture he took represented the name of the club, but it wasn't all that great. My point is, that it really isn't the quality, or the originality of the art, it usually boils down to who you know, and how well you can kiss their ass!

I'm not saying that I deserved to win. I'm sure that there were other works of art that deserved it more than mine. May the best artist win, but it ticks me off when the winner, clearly isn't the best artist. There are some fantastic artists out there who are extremely skilled at what they do, but very rarely (it seems) are they recognized for their skill, their technique, and their dedication to their craft.

I think I'll stick with the masses, and if they like what I do, then hopefully I will be able to make a decent living. I don't need to be rich, or even  recognized with awards. I just want to spend the rest of my life doing what I love to do.

*Patrons are not permitted to take photos in the East building, but you can take pictures in the West building where the classical art is.

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