art is not essential – it is important

March 17, 2007  in  Art as a profession       Related posts:  

I’m in an online class with a group of artists, and the other day someone mentioned that they believed that art was essential part of society. Everyone agreed, but of course we did — we’re artists after all! But I’ve been mulling this idea over some more, and as is my nature, a contrarian thought occurred to me: that art is not essential. And that its lack of essentialness is exactly what makes art so important.

Most of what we do in life is somehow related to the basics of survival: food, lodging, and shelter. Art — making it and seeing it — is one of the few things we can do in life that rises above these basics. It’s fragility, transience, and ephemeral qualities remind us that there is more to life that surviving. That there is more to see than what is in front of us. That there is more to think about than the next meal or paycheck. It is one of the few things that lets us purely exist and be, for a moment, completely human.