Firstly it is important to define our meaning of art before we start, so here are two:
“ Art is a deliberate human action.” (Ellis Potter)
“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” – Oxford American Dictionary
We can both see in these definitions that it a human action and some of the mediums of art are, painting, sculpture, dramatics, writing, music and so on. Art is also closely linked to culture, so it be good to define culture here as:
“ Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviours, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Through culture, people and groups define themselves, conform to society’s shared values, and contribute to society” (Cliff Notes)
So as we can see both definitions or art and culture relate back to human actions, behaviour and beliefs. So looking at art as a commodity, a static item suggests that it is something that people do not want to react to, but how could you not want to react to something that a human has created and that artist has feelings and thoughts. I know we can find this hard with contemporary, post-modernism art such as Jackson Pollack ( No 8). Or do you look at art as sacred? Its too high and holy for you to understand it? It is easy to think this about religious art or classical music but did you look into the context of the art within it’s history, politics and geography? This is why we need to ask questions an do our research to really understand both what we see and why we see it (Potter)
Suggesting that art is just an item means that humans cannot participate with actions fully and therefore undermines our nature of human beings. Art is a human action and therefore it represents who we are and how we relate to each other.It has value because we made it and we can discuss ethics, values, ideas and truth because of this reason. Although post modernism has taken away the idea of an absolute truth and meaning within representation and semiotics, we have to remember that this was not always the case within history and to question if you personally believe in the ideas of post-modernism.
Art and culture as a relationship celebrates the rich diversity that we have, as humans around the world there are some obvious similarities and differences between places and people. All humans share life together and art is an outwards expression of life, as Romanowski shares;
“Engagement with a popular artwork centres in a part on its treatment of the issues of life. Whatever we think is going to be based on some extent, the ideals, beliefs and assumptions that we bring to the artwork, among them an attitude about the others’ viewpoint.”
This makes art universal for all because we share the same emotions and humanity and we are all made in the image of God and therefore share our likeness from him.
The final question is then, how should we react and respond? As I have already suggested we need to question, research and engage with others about art and its mediums. It is the only universal medium that we can engage with the issues of life because it simply reflects our relationships with creation, self and others around us. What is your reaction, do you stare at art? Do you confront it? Do you try and justify it morally? Do you stumble across it? Do you look at it professionally?