I would have to guess that many artist contemplate the purpose of making art. I know it is not an easy question to arrive at an answer to. Some certainly are happy to see art for arts sake is fine. For myself I have always felt deep down it is more than just for the sake of art it’s self. I don’t think I could truly argue or debate effectively that it is, but down deep in my core I simply feel art has purpose. It think it is truly something personal and each artist and each art lover has to come to their own conclusion. It does however seem worthy to share how I see it and how I have come to my views.
I have been pondering this question sense I was a teenager. I have over the years, many times doubted what I believed and many times would have swore I was certain. It would be silly to try to even come close to each and every time in my life that has lead me to where I am on this.
To make it brief, I think it would work well to start at a major early moment in my life that brought me along the way and work my way through just some of them.
When I worked at my grandfather construction company I was exposed to a very wide variety of people. Some perhaps not the greatest effluence on a young mind and some just extremely interesting characters. I think for the most part that experience in my life help make me become adaptive to and excepting of many types of people. One such group of people where some gentlemen who where extremely orthodox christian or at least that is how they would have described them selves. They spent much of there personal time studying the Bible, going to church and discussing things about Christianity. I encountered people from the community associated other times in my jobs during my teens and into my early 20s. They believed or had faith in their convections with such fervor there seemed that nothing would change their opinions on anything. Until the moment I am about to relate I don’t think I ever questioned the value of being an artist or art itself.
One day while working on a job site where we had been building a house for several months I was having a conversation with one of these gentlemen. It’s funny how I can remember the smell of bare pine 2×4’s and saw dust. There was of course the sound of hammers punning and saws cutting. We somehow came along the topic of my art work. His words caught me completely off guard. He explained to me that he did not believe that making art had any value to society. He went on speaking about how nothing was created that could be lived in or used as a tool to make humans more successful. When I reputed by relating to how art had inspired people to change the society in which they lived and such, he simply sloughed it off saying none of that is truly any contribution to bringing us closer to God and all we need is the bible.
Well I didn’t take to much of what this man said to seriously anyway, but it made me think. I suppose because it was a concept that I never had even thought existed. I would never have thought anyone considered art anything other than an extremely important part of our society. For me art was the life of my heart. It MEANT everything. How could I question if there was any purpose? Art had a purpose and though I never wondered what it was I never doubted it did.
I went on in life going about the business of being an artist. Went to college, worked as a graphic artist and so on. I ran into all kinds of thoughts and opinions on just what is important about making art. In working as a graphic artist art became very much about putting food on the table. Art became a means to an ends or perhaps a means to my life not ending because I starved. Art was simply commercial. The quality of my work was driven by a desire to be successful. I think for a long time the part of heart that was burnt into my DNA and lied close to my heart went dormant. Occasionally I would get a glimpse of the past passion and paint but it would never last that long.
At a point when I became disillusioned with making art for commercial use I turn back to the fine arts. I decided to devote myself more to creating art with a passion for art. Initially I stayed focus on a more realism approach and being detailed. The aims of my work was always to convey the emotion of image. I then began experimenting with a more expressive approach and moved further and further into abstraction. People had often seemed to connect with emotions from my art and that pushed me further and further into wanting my art to convey feeling. This became a goal.
When I was able to have a larger audience via the Second Life virtual world art community I found more and more success with conveyance of emotion to that audience. People began sharing with me how my art made them feel and what they conveyed was the feelings I had and was working to convey. I found these successes brought me a feeling of connection.
During these times I had also been struggling with my mental health and depression was a main factor. I came to learn that as with me others with mental illness suffer from feelings of isolation. In fact isolation is seen as a huge contributor to suicide. Over the years isolation even when with other has haunted me. It is very natural for a human to have a need for companionship. We all want others to understand us.
Connecting with others is a beautiful thing and the connections we have with others is fundamental to our over all stability. I would argue that it is also the connections we have to to each other that stabilizes our society. The connection can be deep or shallow but in the end we are not islands. This is what I have found as a purpose for art, music, literature and more. It is all a means for we as people to come closer to each other. Sometimes words can not express our deepest thoughts and feelings. We need images and maybe sounds. These can be the way into each others hearts and souls.
Coming to this conclusion me me brings me to see a great purpose to art. This purpose drives me now and I have been amazed by the wonders of connecting with others. To be able to reach out across the world with an image and touch another person can bring healing to both the creator and the viewer of the creations. If only one persons dreadful feelings of isolation can be broken by one of my paintings then I have found not only purpose to my art but purpose to being.