There are certain artworks that I respond to, artists that I respond to. It's an intellectual reaction but it's also a biological reaction. And the excitement that the work can generate - how it makes you feel about not only your intellectual possibilities but your physical possibilities in this world. How it feels to be alive!
The internationalization of art becomes a factor contributing to the estrangement of art from the artist. The sum of works of all times and places stands against him as an entity with objectives and values of its own. In turn, since becoming aware of the organized body of artworks as the obstacle to his own aesthetic self-affirmation, the artist is pushed toward anti-intellectualism and willful dismissal of the art of the past.
I wrote as a kid, but I never wanted to be a writer particularly. I had been drawing and painting for years and loved that. And I meditate, and one time when I was meditating, I started thinking, "Gee Gail, you love stories -- you read all the time. How come you never tell yourself a story?" While I should have been saying my mantra to myself, I started telling myself a story. It turned out to be an art appreciation book for kids with reproductions of famous artworks and pencil drawings that I did. I tried to get it published and was rejected wholesale.
Gail Carson Levine
I tended to find lines of poetry beautiful only when I encountered them quoted in prose, in the essays my professors had assigned in college, where the line breaks were replaced with slashes, so that what was communicated was less a particular poem than the echo of poetic possibility. Insofar as I was interested in the arts, I was interested in the disconnect between my experience of actual artworks and the claims made on their behalf; the closest I'd come to having a profound experience of art was probably the experience of this distance, a profound experience of the absence of profundity.
In the twentieth century, one encounters artworks that seek to cancel the difference between a real and an imagined reality by presenting themselves in ways that make them indistinguishable from real objects. Should we take this trend as an internal reaction of art against itself? ... No ordinary object insists on being taken for an ordinary thing, but a work that does so betrays itself by this very effort. The function of art in such a case is to reproduce the difference of art. But the mere fact that art seeks to cancel this difference and fails in its effort to do so perhaps says more about art than could any excuse or critique.
There is however, one reason why the arts so rarely accept a mission that IS within the power of the Church to alter. In the past, the densest or richest location of baptised art has been the Liturgy. The sacred use of the arts in the liturgical setting has provided inspiration for artists engaged in producing artworks for contexts outside the Liturgy, for consumption beyond the limits of the visible Church. In the modern West, the Muses have largely fled the liturgical amphitheatre, which instead is given over to banal language, poor quality popular music, and, in new and re-designed churches, a nugatory or sometimes totally absent visual art. This deprives the wider Christian mission of the arts of essential nourishment. Where would the poetry of Paul Claudel be without the Latin Liturgy? Or John Tavener's music without the Orthodox Liturgy? Where would be the entire tradition of representational art in the West without the liturgical art of which until the seventeenth century at least remained at its heart? We need today to summon back the Muses to the sacred foyer of the Church, to be at home again at that hearth.
Aidan Nichols O.P.
The desire to make art begins early. Among the very young this is encouraged (or at least indulged as harmless) but the push toward a 'serious' education soon exacts a heavy toll on dreams and fantasies... Yet for some the desire persists, and sooner or later must be addressed. And with good reason: your desire to make art - beautiful or meaningful or emotive art - is integral to your sense of who you are. Life and Art, once entwined, can quickly become inseparable; at age ninety Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing, Imogen Cunningham still photographing, Stravinsky still composing, Picasso still painting. But if making art gives substance to your sense of self, the corresponding fear is that you're not up to the task - that you can't do it, or can't do it well, or can't do it again; or that you're not a real artist, or not a good artist, or have no talent, or have nothing to say. The line between the artist and his/her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all - and for those who do, trouble isn't long in coming. Doubts, in fact, soon rise in swarms: "I am not an artist - I am a phony. I have nothing worth saying. I'm not sure what I'm doing. Other people are better than I am. I'm only a [student/physicist/mother/whatever]. I've never had a real exhibit. No one understands my work. No one likes my work. I'm no good. Yet viewed objectively, these fears obviously have less to do with art than they do with the artist. And even less to do with the individual artworks. After all, in making art you bring your highest skills to bear upon the materials and ideas you most care about. Art is a high calling - fears are coincidental. Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, we might add, disguising themselves variously as laziness, resistance to deadlines, irritation with materials or surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others - indeed anything that keeps you from giving your work your best shot. What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.