Guides to Fine Arts Like Painting, Designing, Architecture, Sculpture, Photography and More

By Michelle Kathleen


What is art? I took an academic class in junior college once that covered this topic for the entire year. Our earnest Professor spent each class covering the various views people hold regarding how art is defined. Being the art guru that I was and still am, I was entirely pulled into this question and wanted I desperately wanted to know the answer to this question.

How is art properly defined? Is it formalism, functionalism, expressionism, impressionism or one of the great many other isms out there! Does the creator of a work of art decide the arts meaning for does the viewer decide its meaning? Does art have to mean anything? Can a couch, a toilet or some other seemingly random object be considered art? How about police pictures of crime scenes... although such photos were not created with the intention of being art, some people see them as being art.

What the hell is art? Eagerly, I sat in class three times a week trying to answer that question and waiting for the answer from our professor. Each class I internally debated the newest view of art we were taught, to see if I agreed with that view or not. Sadly, I must confess that often I went home and wrote down my thoughts in my art journal as I tumbled with this seemingly easy question.

I fully admit that I'm a dork and that this question about art really bothered me for thirteen weeks while in that Philosophy of Art class in the little town of Stillwater, OK, home to Oklahoma State University. So much so, that I started actually wearing my contacts to class so that I could better read my textbook and the board, rather than my usual squint and guessing routine that employed for my other classes.

Fast-forward to my last day in class. In my seat as upright and eager as any student can be found, I wait... wait for the Professor to finally blurt out the answer to this twelve week question that has plagued our class and fogged our minds. As my Professor speaks I look around at my fellow classmates at anticipation that we all will finally know the answer to the question... What is art? And yet, I find only blank, uninterested gazes.... is it possible that no one cares! I quickly scan the crowd once more and yes, it's true no one cares... save me! And then it occurs...

The bell rings and the Professor dismisses us one last time... but wait! I still don't know the answer! And maybe that's the point. So, if anyone does know please feel free to let me in on it, because until then I'm still wondering; What is art?




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