How do I define art?
On my living room wall are matted, framed black and white photographs of the outdoors, images from an area less than a mile in circumference from my Grandfather’s home. He captured the images, processed them, matted them and then shared them with his world of friends and family. He was a humble man with deep abiding faith, and a quiet manner. He had a love of nature which showed in his timeless images. I consider these photographs works of art. Which leads me back to the question, what is art?
I often speak of the influence of my grandparents here, and justifiably so because they had a great impact on me. Grandma’s art was her cooking, sewing, keeping a home…the domestic forms of art. She put herself into the simple quilts she made for us to sleep under, in the delicious chicken and dressing that she made repeatedly for church dinners, and in the many garments she sewed in her lifetime. Her handwritten recipe book sits on the desk here as I type this, a treasure to me because of who created it and what it meant to her… it was her best of the best recipes. Some are splattered with food stuff from frequent use.
I still have not answered my own question…
There was the sound as I was falling asleep as young girl of my mom playing the piano while my dad sang. And the absolutely beautiful sound of my sister playing Chopin as she studied piano. My brother performing Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin in high school, another brother singing and playing guitar. The signs painted for people by my dad, the singing in four part harmony with the family at home and in church.
The arts have surrounded me all my life. But the hardest thing to do is describe what they are. Here is what I do know.
When I view those images on my living room wall I am moved by the simple beauty of them, by the light that was captured and the point of view, the texture of the snow that is heaped up on the wood pile in another image. The photographer was moved by these, too, and successfully caught that moment in this art form.
Grandma’s quilts are ragged, imperfect, and showing age, yet I can remember the dresses and shirts she converted into those scraps that make up the quilts, can see her at her old Domestic Rotary sewing machine as she sewed for hours on end. I can still taste her chicken and dressing, her sweet rolls…though mine never tastes as good as hers. Her art gave us a taste, if you will, of what was important to her, what she wanted to share, and we got that. We got that.
Art is a point of view of the Artist, expressed in some kind of art form in such a way that it moves the beholder or partaker. Somehow the Artist has discovered a way to capture the essence of what they are moved by, and can use the means they have to express what is coming from deep within. There is mystery in this. I believe that the deeper the mystery, the more the art moves us. Just as my Grandmother’s cooking filled our bellies it also nourished our souls, which I believe also is an important aspect of art in any form…it nourishes us spiritually.
Yes, photography is an Art. And I’m finally understanding that I am an Artist. I say understanding because this is a process, coming to that point, and it will continue as I learn and grow. Being able to write this paragraph, to say what I just did, has come about because of this photography class. For the first time in my life the question of why I take photos has been asked of me, making me look deep inside.
Being creative feeds my soul. While looking through the lens on a DSLR is my preferred way to create, I also enjoy other things like music, mixed media art (which I’m working on learning more about), painting, and decorating the canvas that is my Home. Most recently, though, I was moved by the thin line of ice on the edge of a leaf in my front yard, thousands of tiny crystals that outline features we otherwise might not see. That is the art from my point of view that I will share here…and my hope is that it will move you as it did me.
Written for Kat Sloma’s photography course…click here to learn more of what she has to offer.