What is Art For?

Introduction: Jill Caporlingua teaches art in Highland Park. Welcome, Jill!

I’ve often wondered what drives people to create. Maybe it’s different for me because art is my profession and such an integral part of who I am, so I can’t even imagine not doing art. Still I wonder, what makes my students and others who aren’t creating art as their livelihood feel the urge? Is it for relaxation? Recreation? A form of therapy? A way to communicate with others or express feelings and ideas? I’d be happy to hear anyone’s comments on this topic…

I’ve heard some artists say they believe it should ONLY be for a certain “higher” purpose. Some grand quest for knowledge or to express a political or social message they deem worthy.

Well, this is my blog and I have to say: I disagree whole-heartedly! I think art should be accessible to everyone and can benefit anyone, for whatever reason they are driven to create. Throughout history, it has not just been Michelangelo and Picasso who have something to say. Art can enrich the life and spirit of all of us. Look at the drawings on caves from thousands of years ago, the amazing so-called primitive art, naive art, folk art, and outsider art. These are art forms born from artists without any formal training, and I highly recommend looking them up. The work is incredibly inspiring.

Of course, as an art teacher, I believe there are great benefits to learning technique, but that’s a blog for another day. Until then, for whatever reasons drive you, and whatever your medium: keep creating!

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2 thoughts on “What is Art For?

  • Jill,

    Your post brings up a lot more questions:
    Should we the taxpayers pay for art? What kind of art?
    Should students be taught art as part of school? Or should it be optional, an extra?
    Is there a gene for art?(you teach my son–I certainly think there is one!)
    Should art appreciation be required in college?
    Sometimes totalitarian governments can produce great art, that democracies can’t:
    look at the ballets of Tsarist and Soviet Russia
    For me, creativity is almost a curse…if I’m not being creative, I get depressed.

    – Leora

  • A beautiful post, Jill. And I find your questions helpful, Leora.

    The drive to create is an amazing thing, as is the variety of expressions in which that creativity is displayed. When I am deeply moved by something, like a painting or a piece of music or profound humor or particularly evocative writing, I often stop and marvel not just at what is produced but at the genius of a mind that works in such a way as to express thoughts and feelings that I understand, but could not express in that shape. It does not make me feel “less than” because I am not particularly talented in that area, but rather excited at connecting to someone who can see the world and communicate what is seen in such an amazing way and make it look so effortless (even though I know it is not always as effortless as it looks).

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