While considering what art means to me I realized that in the past I viewed it as, above all, a method of self-expression. But throughout this course I have realized that there is so much more to it than that. Art can still be a form of self-expression, but that is not all it is. Not everyone likes making or performing art, but the fact is that it brings people together. They can be brought together by their shared passion for it or by their shared hatred, but they are still connecting as they produce or experience art in any of its forms. I think these connections are the most important thing that art can offer. The definition of art varies depending on the discipline of the person defining it, because one’s discipline often has an influence over what something means to them. In terms of art, the etymology of the word is a “skill as a result of learning or practice,” and I think this definition would resonate the most with STEM-minded people, whereas if someone is a painter then they’ll think of painting as the form of art that they are most familiar with. This same idea applies to dancers, musicians, architects, etc. Art has many meanings, and it is woven throughout every aspect of our lives because of how many different types of it there are. This is why it is so often that art brings people together, because there’s so many opportunities for it. When I was considering examples of this, I found that our class’ blog was abundant with scenarios in which art encourages connecting with others.
In the very beginning of the semester Steve Prince held an art-making event that we are all in this class familiar with called Urban Garden. Melisha and Amina came together to do a collaborative post about Urban Garden that detailed their differing experiences during the event. But this shared art experience brought them into conversation with one another and they both agreed that “I’m appreciative that I was able to have this experience in order to self-reflect and build conversation around important societal issues and topics.” I like how they referred to this experience as building on a conversation because I believe this to be Prince’s main goal for his artwork, to initiate conversation about the things we like and don’t like about our world.
For example, Prince’s piece Katrina’s Veil: Stand at Gretna Bridge is a response to what happened on Gretna Bridge when evacuees were trying to cross over to safety. The piece clearly is an opposition to this event because the people with guns on the left have evil expressions, while the people trying to cross the bridge on the right look forlorn yet determined. You can’t help but root for them. These emotions were able to be conveyed through art, and while it would seem like words are the most straightforward way to convey something, visuals can often be much more impactful. Sound can convey thoughts and feelings in a different way as well, and when sound and visual are brought together I feel as though the result is really impactful. For example, another event that took place early on in the semester with the Freedom Trio and Steve Prince combined visual art with music. As the Freedom Trio played, Prince did a sketch of one of the players, Herb Smith. I wrote about this event in my first blog post “Learning from Art” in response to what the Freedom Trio conveyed through their music I wrote, “I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. It was like everything that was captured in the uplifting side of the Urban Garden was brought to life through sound.” Steve Prince then captured this hope in the drawing that he did.
Art can initiate conversations for the future, but it can also allow people to share their stories and their pasts with one another. This foundation of past stories is just as important as the conversations for the future. An example of this is shown in Madison’s post “Dancing Queen” Madison wrote, “Art is a way to express what we cannot with only words. Artists use their artworks as a way of telling their stories, others stories’ or merely just creating to create whether it is physical or performance art.” It can be hard for some people to talk about their past, and art provides a safe space for them to do so. Sharing stories allows people to find ways in which their lives are both similar and different, and how they can come together with not just their similarities but differences too. In a blog post that Abby and Lindsey wrote together they discuss how they met while participating at an art exhibit. They wrote about how while contributing to the exhibit “Everyone in the group had a different style, different medium, and different point of view.” Even though everyone had different backgrounds and disciplines they were able to come together to convey something as a whole.
This class, “The Art of Steve Prince” would not exist if Steve Prince was not an artist. We did not purely focus on Prince’s art in this class, but it is the initial basis of this course, and any other paths we followed, whether it be the works of DuBois and Kim Vaz-Deville, all ran alongside the main road of Prince’s artwork. Everything we discussed and debated was connected and brought together through Prince’s work. I learned a lot throughout these discussions that we have had this semester, and it helped me realize the value that art has in contributing to and driving important conversations. Before taking this class I knew that art could initiate conversations, but I never thought about how important this is and why it matters. I have enjoyed coming together with my peers and the various professors who came in to talk about art and I learned a lot from the experience.