In my introductory sociology class, we go off topic quiet a lot, though I am guessing that’s the point. We are meant to be left astray, discuss, debate and then align with theories, frameworks or schemas. It’s a fun class, that’s for sure. At one point, we began discussing art and I was especially excited. For a while now, I have been trying to get myself to be more aware of art; and active and avid seeker of it and, if I am capable, a devoted participant and creator. And soon, I became especially surprised. My teacher began explaining how art has developed to become without function and without purpose. She explained how art is now created because we have the space and capacity to do it, not because we have to do it and not because its to serve a very specific purpose.
It has been three weeks and I haven’t stopped thinking about her declaration because art occupies such a monumental portion of my life. Here, I would like to note how art encompasses everything from complicated music to captivating advertising. If I am not making art, I am consumed by it. This is not to say I will always be dressed in paint and cannot stop my hands from shaking because I have so much to write, but to say that I tend to make things. And to be making a lot of things. I am consumed by art in that I have been accustomed to try and make things of the things around me. I am consumed by art in that I am a self-acclaimed critic. And I am consumed by art in that I am very eager and especially excited when looking for it, when absorbing it and finally, retaining it.
She explained how architecture used to embrace the gods and sculptures were a celebration of the human form. She dwelled on how poetry was a means of salvation. She told us about plays being an ode to authority and figurines being a celebration of nature in all shapes and sizes. Drawings carved in walls was to protect those sleeping within them and marks etched on caves were to document that someone was here. Storytelling and the spread of myths was to teach and pass on knowledge. Art had purpose, art had function. And today, she explained, anyone can produce art and anyone can critic art and it is the first time we witnessed art being created not for a specific cause or reason.
I was compelled to learn more and I began looking for function and purpose in art around me. And for a really long time, I was disappointed. The art surrounding me was purposeless, without direction and seemed to stem not of a need but rather an ability to produce it. And I’m still trying to figure out whether I’m okay with that.