If Every Thing Can Be “Art,” Where Does That Leave the Artist?

Ariane of smARTist, Danielle Laporte, art relationship, artists relationship, Manifesto, relationship to art, smARTist

A while ago, I was reading a book that a neighbor of my daughter’s thought I’d enjoy– Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte.

It’s what I’d characterize as a cheerleader, self help, get yourself grounded and growing book. Then I came to a section where Laport says You’re an artist and that’s that!

This is how she starts out: “Art-making is not strictly about visual creations and producing material things. Every single one of us is an artist at something.  We lost ourselves in the creation of it, we’re gifted at making it, we feel closer to ourselves and to a greater source when we do our art.”

And then Laporte goes on to say hairdressers are artists, a lover who senses just when to push you and when to let go is an artist, and baby whisperers are artists.

At this point, I started having a visceral reaction.

If I were an animal, all the hair on the back of my neck would have gone straight up.

I would have been down in that low crouch, getting-ready-to-spring position; with really steely, yellow eyes penetrating the dark.

At the same time, something else I’ve thought about a lot came into play: it’s the way we use the word’art’ in our culture at large.

‘Art’ has a very specific designation in our human brain, a specific point of reference. My guess is that, for the most part, when some one mentions the word “art” without a direct reference, people image a painting or drawing, some level of 2-D expression.

That’s what I’d call our basic reference.

When does the art of anything count as nothing?

Then, there’s the “art of tennis,” for example, where people link the word ‘art’ to all kinds of activities. And now that I think about it, this practice does seem to be exclusively connected to activities, and often activities that have no direct connection to artists or the arts at all.

It’s as if “art” is a stand in for “being creative.” Which would be cool except there’s a dark side that bugs me.

At the unconscious, collective consciousness (if you follow me), it feels like a way to not respect or honor the specific profession of being an artist because the minute you say something is everything it immediately becomes nothing.

The minute you make everything go broad and go general then it no longer has gravitas; it no longer has a point of reference.

And so, I take personal affront to somebody taking the word ‘art’ and ‘artist’ and deciding that they’re going to willy nilly, knight everybody an artist.

What would it be like if we decided to knight everybody “lawyers?”  Suddenly, it’s the “law of tennis.”

At its core, this free handed “art” knighting feels disrespectful. It also feels confusing because people, in their heart, know what an artist is, and they know if they are that or they are not that.

How does this stack up for you, my intrepid artists?

Is it a bone stuck in your craw, or do you have another perspective that might be more expansive than my decidedly reactive position?

Tell me, please…

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If you love exploring how stepping fully into your creative flow encourages the collective consciousness of humanity to step into its collective, creative flow, then  click here for your copy of my  Manifesto For Visual Fine Artists.

Then come back here and tell me about the principles you believe will take you closer and closer to the visionary summit of the truth and power in your art.

The Next Step

I have been coaching visual artists on their career path to Visionary Affluence since 2004.

That’s the ten-year minimum it takes to master any skill—not to say I’ve actually mastered anything. Just letting you know I have logged the 10,000 hours it takes to run fast enough, flap your wings hard enough, and leap high enough to discover whether or not you can fly.

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Leaning into the smell of a wood fire, these artists – intrepid visionaries every one – share their experiences with each other. A hawk cries out and circles overhead as the mountain range frames a bold streak of sunset sky deepening to blood red.

I invite you to join your fellow artists, and me, under the emerging stars of your own visions, where the expansive beauty of the horizon calls out, the fire is warm, and the truth of your heart is irresistible!

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Click here to get your download.

And I’ll keep you posted on the exciting new events, webinars, trainings, books, and successful artist interviews I’m mapping out as we climb this dream summit together.

11 Responses to “If Every Thing Can Be “Art,” Where Does That Leave the Artist?”

  1. I agree with you, Ariane. Art seems to be the one area where there are no standards, no training, no place for discernment….it’s weird…and given how little attention there is to teaching even the most basic skill of drawing, whether for “artists” or just as a valuable language, it is highly suspicious.

    • Hi Carol,
      I’m not sure I’m following your reference to “highly suspicious.”

      Would you mind unpacking that a bit more for me as I really like your direct layout of “there are no standards, no training, no place for discernment – “

      • Okay, I admit it–I believe there is a conspiracy to lower the value of art, creativity, the feminine, etc. to keep us powerless…which is where those in charge seem to want most of us to stay. The subtle and not so subtle ways that art is devalued achieve that end well.

        • Ariane Goodwin, Ed.D. says:

          Ah, yes, the larger sociological/political picture does loom over us.

          From where I sit though, the spiritual picture looms even larger and supersedes even the most conspiratorial conspiracy (if there even is such a thing!)

  2. There seems to be a lack of education with regard to art and what it demands of artists in the general public circles. This lack of awareness leads to mishaps such as the subject of my latest blog (www.karenblanchet.blogspot.com): “The Great Yellow Pipe”. Essentially a gas fitter ran the yellow pipe through my newly finished gallery to hook up the heater for the work space part of my new studio. It also allows for comments like: “I like your work but I would never buy it. Ikea has much the same thing for much less…” Sometimes I wonder if I am living in a vacuum, the sole connected being in my universe… In any event, I have decided to keep painting.

  3. Kate Aubrey says:

    I know this sort of thing gets to you, Ariane…we’ve had a Bluestocking call devoted to it…and I do understand your point. There is certainly the loss of gravitas you speak of, and there is a problem in the general public mind. Something is wrong.

    Some of it has to do with the way public education has been dumping its art programs in so many states over the years, and yes, I think it would be good to wrestle with your concerns.

    That said, I keep wanting to ask you to take a deep breath and let go of your reaction just enough to allow some thoughtful exploration. Just because a reaction is deep and visceral doesn’t mean every aspect of it is dead-on accurate. To identify, explore and come up with ways to deal with a problem is a good thing. The question is can you really locate and explore the truth(s) of anything while in the grip of full “cheetah attack mode”?

    To that end, I’ve included a couple of definitions taken straight out of my computer dictionary. Here they are:

    art |ärt|
    noun
    1 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: the art of the Renaissance | great art is concerned with moral imperfections | she studied art in Paris.
    • works produced by such skill and imagination: his collection of modern art | an exhibition of Mexican art | [ as modifier ] : an art critic.
    • creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture: she’s good at art.
    2 (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance: the visual arts | [ in sing. ] : the art of photography.
    3 (arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects): the belief that the arts and sciences were incompatible | the Faculty of Arts.
    4 a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice: the art of conversation.

    artist |ˈärtist|
    noun
    a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
    • a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
    • a person skilled at a particular task or occupation: a surgeon who is an artist with the scalpel.
    • a performer, such as a singer, actor, or dancer.
    • [ with modifier ] informal a habitual practitioner of a specified reprehensible activity: a con artist | rip-off artists.

    I am, in fact, not seeing anything in the definitions of art which I have not heard all of my life, Ariane. (That’s 60 years.) “The art of conversation,” and other such phrases are indications that the concept of art might be a little more complex than the production of 2-dimensional works.

    References to other forms of creative effort like writing fiction, acting, and singing have also been present and common throughout my life.

    Remember, I do think there is indeed a problem here. I just don’t think we’ve quite nailed it down as to what it really is here.
    So OK, go throw darts at a piece of paper with my name on it. Demolish it. Swear. Then let’s have a go at this outside of attack mode and see what we get.

    Love and hugs,
    Kate
    Who has missed you all terribly

  4. Oh, Kate,
    Such a lovely comment and I deeply appreciate the personal connection here.

    I can see why you could interpret this as “attack mode” and I love your simple response of a complex issue by getting out the dictionary.

    You are right. “Art” is a much broader phenomenon than a 2 or 3-D experience.

    I suspect that if “…the standards, training, and a place for discernment” were set up for artists, then the other levels of “art” as it applies to a kind of skill (hmmm, would love to unpack that idea – how does the “art” of a skill differ from other skill characteristics?”) would be less troublesome in infecting the collective consciousness with misperceptions about art as a profession.

    No darts, my good woman. Only gratitude for your contribution to a lively conversation here.

    Thank you!

  5. I don’t know if this comment fits in this discussion….when I got into a conversation with an artist many years ago about just this topic, one of her questions was, “If you play a musical instrument, do you call yourself a musician?” The answer is “No.” Perhaps ‘art’ or ‘artist’ is too generic and we need to say ‘painter’ ‘sculptor’ etc…..??

    BTW, I like the new look Ariane. :)

    • Hmmm, now there’s a thought – I like it! Be specific. Always works when you’re working with words – so here’s another way to drill down into a place where you have a handle.

      Seems as if the curiosity teaser line to “What do you do?” would be very important for this.

  6. Kate Aubrey says:

    Great points, Carol. Yes, people have always wanted to control and command other people. Mostly, they’ve been men, but it isn’t a gender-limited trait. Catherine of Aragon (“The Constant Princess”, an historically accurate book by Phillipa Gregory) or Margaret Beaufort (Henry VIII’s grandmother) are some “shining” examples. I think it comes from a great need to keep oneself safe. The Killing Fields of Cambodia were filled with the country’s thinkers, including a huge number of artists.

    I actually think, though, that we can look at the general public for a larger part of the problem. In our attempt to encourage our children, we have over-rewarded them and have not required that they actually perform above average to receive above average grades. No child must be left out when medals of achievement are being “awarded”; it might Hurt Their Feelings.
    Horrors!

    We have also taught them to expect immediate feedback/gratification/attention.

    Art Is revered. Being an artist Is a big deal in most people’s minds, even if it’s just an inchoate feeling they have. Being an artist Is admired.

    So if you know you already are as good as anyone else, and you want to be admired, and you don’t have to actually work at anything to be rewarded for it, why wouldn’t you just want to be an artist? You can dress so you think you look like one, you can buy the tools, you can set up a table in your game room, and behold! You’re an artist.

    We should probably be happy that many people still require some author to proclaim them an artist before they quite believe it. It implies some hope for the situation.

    I love your example of musician vs. player; it absolutely belongs here. There would be some value in changing our title, as it would cause people to stop and think/wonder. It wouldn’t, however, be enough because people would then just glom onto the new title.

    A title change plus some vociferousness and digging in of heels plus a distinct effort at education might do it, though.

    Maybe we could talk about how to educate and come up with a game plan during Bluestocking…..

    Cheerio,
    K

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