I think a lot about what art can mean, what art should mean to those who create it and those who participate in it, and what art is to the culture it is made in. I constantly find myself returning to ideas I first encountered when reading John Ruskin’s works as a 20 year old. Through my eyes, Ruskin believes art (for creator and viewer) should be an event. It should lead you to a place outside of the mundane, profane world in which we live and to a place both sacred and more real. For Ruskin, and myself, art have a full and organic relationship – art is a means of connecting to the natural world, our place in it, and through it to that which is sacred.
For Ruskin, art is a barometer of the health of culture from which it derives, the greater the power of the art to connect you with your place in the natural world and the sublime the healthier the culture. Living in England during the industrial revolution, Ruskin was appalled by the mechanization of the culture and especially the people within his society. He stagnation and decay of art in his time period as a symptom of the decay of civilization and the modern factory, with its mechanized production and division of labor, as an almost insurmountable barrier between the worker and his work, preventing a genuine relationship, destroying any spiritual element and alienating the producer from the product of his hands. The products of such a system were stillborn, lacking the vital spark of true craft, reflecting the difference between a craftsman and machine. Workers had devolved from free craftsman to slaves of a mechanized society, denied individuality and severed from their full potential to create.
Outside of the implicit criticism of American society, what does this mean to me as an artist? I think artists have an obligation to create living art. Something that transports the participant/viewer from the insanity of our hyper-mechanized reality to a place where we can reconnect. Art should not be the mechanized churning of something that will sell. It should not be created as an act to shock, in the pursuit of something new for newness sake, or for the selfish promotion of ones career.
Art should create a resonance between its participant/viewers and the world they live in, the world they strive for, and their fellow creatures. It should motivate us to be better, to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, and to reject that which prevents these ideals.
Eric in a Word: unasinous
Religious Figure of the Day: Juturna
Sketch medium: graphite and incidental ink on card stock stained with black tea and honey