After an essay on the value of art I received some emails from readers who felt intrigued by my stance that art has no objective value; some, however, mistook my words as a denial of any value in art. Such is far from the truth.
Arts and creativity (creative arts) are the cornerstone of my life… and for me to say that art has no value would be an admission that my life is without value. Cosmically speaking, my life may be insignificant—but you won’t ever find that sentiment supported in my actions and personal beliefs!
Any form of creative art is immensely valuable in an emotional, sentimental and cultural way. Art enhances our ability to communicate ideas and feelings in ways that words fail—how and why this is I am not capable of explaining. But there is definitely something very powerful in a well wrought painting, musical score, photograph, movie or poem; an image of an anguished child wrapped in a blanket of dirty rags and ailing with empty eyes may touch us in a way that the words "The kids are hungry” cannot.
There is something more poignant about sensations (images, sounds, smells, feelings) than abstractions. The artist who learns the lesson of "Show, Don’t Tell” has taken one step into the realm of wise master.
While no individual piece of art is, in my opinion, eternally and objectively more valuable than the next, there is something called "great art” that sets apart from juvenile art. I cannot define the criteria—but I can tell you when I see or hear it! Of course, the problem is that my definition of great art may not equate to yours or the next critic’s opinion.
Art serves as a powerful motivator, more for the artist than the critic and reviewer—and probably more for the artist than the fan. An artist is something of an obsessed fanatic forever on a quest to create the most compelling and moving piece of art. An artist grows through his art; each new piece extends the limit of who he is and who he will always be. Artists seek longevity and even immortality through their art! With each new piece of art finished, an artist has refined the definition of who he is—for now anyone who sees or hears his results will know something of the creator and his vision and hopes and fears.
Being creative is, in itself, a valuable talent and trait. Creativity is a gift of humanity that is only minimally known outside our species. It is the very reason of our success in all areas of life—even beyond art. Creativity is the trait of humans that allows us to take what we have and make something new and novel. Business, child-rearing, science and technology all rely on varying levels and kinds of creativity for success. Art is just another form of creativity—sort of an unleashed and unpredictable oracle built into our genes.
I believe that the main value of art is in its process rather than results—that the act of creating new things expands us and teaches us new ways to reach goals. Being creative is the true value of being artistic. This individual process of growing through creative arts helps us produce varying new vistas on humanity that can further help the next generation grow in its own world of creative art. In such a view, the individual growth each artist achieves increases the whole culture, because it helps fill the world with gifted environments that encourage young artists to seek their own artistic journeys.