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.
History has always been one of those subjects that I didn’t like, and only recently have I started to question why this is. Is it that I don’t care about history, or do I just not like the way that it has been taught? I find it highly unlikely that I don’t care about history because it is something that permeates every subject of learning. History is just things that happened in the past, and all the knowledge we have today is built off of those things, so why is it that I haven’t enjoyed the subject itself?
Coming into this class, I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and I think that ended up being beneficial to my experience with this course. I have always been a planner—I like to know all of the details of something I’m going to do to decide whether or not it is worth my time. But while this is how I have determined my decisions in the past, recently I have taken the liberty to be a bit more impulsive. When I was deciding what classes to take this semester I attempted to make the “perfect” schedule, but classes of course filled up fast as I was only registering as a sophomore. Initially, I was not going to take The Art of Steve Prince, even though I was interested in it. I did not know it could count towards my English major, and when I learned that it did I impulsively dropped another class so that it could fit into my schedule. Later, during drop/add week I impulsively added another class that I had not even considered taking until I saw that it had one open seat. It was a women and gender studies course, something I had wanted to take but didn’t think I would since I am not majoring or minoring in it. But I had room in my schedule, and I wanted to take it. I know for many students this way of choosing classes is normal, but for someone like me who has always planned everything out whenever given the chance, it was both liberating and intimidating.
I was recently reminded of a book I read in senior year of high school, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I enjoyed the book, and I love Oscar Wilde, but the arguments Wilde made in the preface to the book were ones I couldn’t agree with. Wilde talks about how art is useless and should not have anything to do with the artist. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim”
“No artist desires to prove anything.”
“All art is quite useless.”
The things that Prince depicts in his artwork pertain to mature subjects but looking at his work also reminds me of my childhood. I used to play these “I Spy” games on the family computer in which the player simply tried to find and click on all of the items that were listed for the player to find. I’m not sure why 6-year-old me was so entertained by this, but I used to play for hours—just how I feel like one could view Prince’s artwork for hours and still make new discoveries.
We have already done and learned a lot in this course in merely three weeks, but there was one experience that stood out to me that helped me settle on what my goal for this class, and life in general, will be. This experience was the “Urban Garden Music” event, and I’ll begin by describing what it meant to me. Within a few minutes of the Freedom Trio starting I was entranced—The energy in the room seemingly became a living thing, and any negativity was flushed away. 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.