Monday, October 3, 2011

Meaning of Art or Meaningful Art?

Just recently I received an email from someone I have never met before. Sandra Fehr began to tell me of her story. Recently her family was in an accident and her son, Mark received severe brain damage. As a mother of two young sons myself, my eyes began to swell up already.

Backing up a little, a few years ago, a church we had attended requested a large painting commission from me. I was to paint the trinity as a triptic. I had a hard time narrowing down who I felt the Father was  and who he might be to others and came up with a simple scene of a boy sleeping on the shoulder of the Father. You can't see the face of the Father, but He is illuminated, casting light on the boy.

Sandra attends this church. She told me that the first time she saw the painting after the accident, she found comfort, feeling that Mark was in the arms of Jesus and that he was being taken care of. To her and many others, the boy in the painting looked just like Mark so for Sandra, the painting gave her hope that her son would be okay. Mark is recovering slowly.

Is this the meaning of art or is it simply meaningful art. A little while ago Keith Bond wrote and article called "Advancing Art for Art's Sake" where he paraphrases another article by Rose Fredrick who states that fine art art should advance for art's sake. Fine Art should "further the movement and evolution of art; to leave a lasting impression on society". Furthermore, it should be "honest" and "advance society".

My painting of the Father may never reach "society" (to which I understand as, the world), and I have not developed a new style or new technique with this painting to which may advance society, but if a work of art can affect one person, is that enough? It's her world being affected. It has honestly and positively left and impression on her. What would art be if we as artists only painted for ourselves? Is this the meaning of art? Should we as artists always strive to paint meaningful art that affects others positively? How does society advance if not one person at time?

My views may be relative but Sandra's story inspired me to keep painting meaningful work, which is the meaning of art to me. What do you think?


Marilyn M. King said...

Beautifully written. I agree that if a painting brings, joy, peace, understanding, comfort or any positive thing that it is worthwhile and blessed by our maker who gave us the ability to create. The first people in the Bible who were filled by the Holy Spirit were artisans in order to adorn the Temple of God. Now if we create art for church, church materials, a still life or landscape that sheds light on God's beauty, etc., then we are doing His work. It is soooo worthwhile!

Your example of healing and comforting art is such a beautiful testament of that. Thank you for sharing.

Doris Nickerson said...

I was touched by your article. If we bring comfort to even one person by a painting, then we are rewarded. I loved the painting.

Crystal Rassi said...

Thank you for your wonderful comments ladies. I apologize for not responding during the year of my maternity leave.