The Art Conundrum

By | February 24, 2013

It’s Saturday, 11am and the sun is shining a bright storm through the windows. We are having pancakes, raspberry ones. I am not sure if it’s the sweetness of the maple syrup, the warmth steamy flavor of the pancakes or the simple joy of any rush-less Saturday (yes, I know rush-less is not a word but it paints one as it is), or all of them combined, but there’s always good conversations sprouting like crazy little plants all around the table.

“Mom, what is art?”

Tony’s face bears a funny smiles. But of course you know what it is. OK, he admits, but what if someone takes a pair of broken earphones and glues them to something else, is that art?

Well, no, I do not think so. Though art is a subjective thing, we all agree.

“What’s subjective, mom?” Sasha is always part of the discussions.

I explain the best I can.

Some art is universally recognized as beautiful art, and there’s no debate, other kinds are fully debatable.

How about candy wrappers stuck to objects, say an old snowshoe, Tony pushes. Oh come on! But no, he insists, someone came to their classroom and demonstrated this kind of art.

Hmmm. I want them to develop critical thinking, to also have respect for what people do, but to be able to speak their mind and not just agree with something or “roll with it” because it’s trendy or because everyone else says so.

“But why headphones mom? They looked like broken headphones and nothing else.”

At this point one could argue that my children or any other children (and adults too for that matter) do not have a well-developed eye for art therefore they cannot see past the obvious; broken headphones in this case. Or that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Fair enough. But incomplete.

I told them what I think, and that is by no means right or wrong; simply my opinion. I believe that when someone is inspired to create something, (whatever the medium is), and that someone creates something not to make money or to appear original, but because there is no other way of exiting that whirlwind of inspiration, that’s when art happens and it speaks to us.

Hence my own little rule: I’ll call it art when one’s goal is not to create an impression for the sake of it, but rather respond to bouts of inspiration.

The boys pointed to the walls.

“Is that art?”

Well, it’s our art.

Our house contains art and mementos. Art created by us: paintings, drawings, photographs; and then, the mementos that I created along the years in what seemed like a futile way of trying to stop time, but has since developed into reminders of times past; reason to be grateful, and incentive to cherish the days to come.

I’m not some conceited wannabe artist who believes that only my art is good enough. But I want our house to be a celebration of my boys’ growing up, a reminder of how they see the world, a tug at my heart to never fully grow up.

In fact, the house is also full of rocks, shells and pressed wild flowers. Reminders of sunny days, of cloudy days; soul hugs to keep us warm.

Back to the candy wrappers and broken headphones: I know that trash art exists and some pieces are striking. Some, if not all, are also trying to raise awareness about how much garbage there is although I am not sure if they succeed or not. That’s beside the point though.

Bottom line: If trash is the medium we choose to deliver an artful message through, it better not be the express way done as a demonstration to school kids, because they miss the point and when they do, we adults miss an opportunity to inspire them. Instead of being surprised, they shrug, laugh and move on.

Pancakes, warm and syrupy, straight talking, rain or shine while joking and talking about all things that made an impression on us, I can only hope that we will keep this perfect Saturday ritual alive for many years to come.

I hope for debates, good solid arguments, critical thinking, silliness and the ever present “Mom, I’m full. Thank you for the pancakes…” And to you, my boys. For Saturdays.

 

 

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