A Stitch In Time

My Life In Words

What makes an artist, the discussion continues.

Posted by debraroby on September 28, 2005

There is this fabulous discussion going on in Gabrielle’s comments. It needs to be brought out into the public, so instead of writing a tome as a comment, I’m blogging some of my reactions here for the world to see.

This all started when Gabrielle, responding to Nicky’s comments on creating for the market vs. our vision, posted her partial list of an artist’s responsibilities. One item was:

-To evoke some response from the viewer whether good or bad

And Pat commented that she did not believe that art needed to be seen to be art. Which leads to the whole… when is it art question. Gabrielle responded, and Pat said:

My first reaction is this: there are plants the world over producing beautiful flowers that are never seen. That is just what is so. Why is it art must be seen? It has value by virtue of beingness. It has value because the artist moved something from the inside to the outside reality. The artist sees the work. Sometimes that is what is most important – to see one’s truth mirrored back in one’s work…

First, those flowers that are never seen are not art. The plants creativing those flowers do not think of their flowering as art (well, they don’t think at all), nor do they call it art.

Secondly, Pat’s statement needs to be qualified that they are never seen by humans. But they do not flower for the benefit of humans. They flower to attract the birds/insects/animals that will help pollinate them. If those pollinators do not see them, the species will cease to exist. And those pollinators are the ONLY IMPORTANT “viewers” of the flowers. We humans are totally inconsequential.

Art, created by humans, exists purely for humans.

And while the creative spirit may be fed and satisfied by the work, the work does not become art until it creates a reaction in someone. Until that point, it is personal creative expression and potentially art.

Jenny G. commented that: Well…..I agree that not everyone lives up to their creative potential, and in THAT way “not everyone is an artist”. I DO think the capacity for creativity is universal and very much a part of what it means to be human.

I think we need to distinguish between creative potential, artistic ability and being an artist.

While I have a small talent for writing, I do not possess all the skills necessary to be a writer. Nor do I call myself one. In the same way.. one may have creative potential, but that does not make one an artist. And using that creative potential may satisfy something inside us, but that still doesn’t make us an artist. It makes us creative.

The public display of art… the sharing of the artist’s vision with the world and the worlds’ reaction to that vision is the differentiating factor between “creative potential” and “artistic ability”.

It strikes me that much of this discussion centers around what we mean by the words: creative, artistic and ARTIST. So what is needed here? Do we need a clearer definition of terms? Fuller understanding? Published lexicon (would anyone consult it or would they argue whether the words meant what they said they meant?). I’m not sure. But this sure was interesting to contemplate.

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One Response to “What makes an artist, the discussion continues.”

  1. Gerrie said

    Very well said, Deb. You have made some excellent points. Since my buzzing head won’t allow me to think properly, I appreciate your comments!!

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