09 March 2010

Art in the Mall

Fine arts move to the mall | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ

I'm trying to decide what I think about this.

I think I'm okay with it. If the Winona Mall got more foot traffic it might be a good thing to do here; there's some empty storefronts.

If art is to be relevant it has to be in front of as many people as possible. It needs to have a bit of mystery, but it also needs demystifying too. That's a contradiction, I know, but it's also somewhat true.

I suppose the biggest problem with this idea is the diffusion of  the idea of Art, the blending of Art and consumerism. But isn't it already blended? I don't know many artists who don't like it when they sell work. We're producing for a consumer society already...

It might be that something like this mall project could get people talking about what Art really is...

Art is more than what has historically been labeled Art. It's also less than what has recently been labeled Art. By this I am referring to two tendencies - the tendency for people to consider only painting, drawing or sculpture as Art, and the tendency to hold as Art many objects that were created as illustrations, or functional pieces.

At what point does an Artifact become Art? Is a 2,000 year-old sculpture, originally meant for worship (maybe), Art because it's 2,000 years old? Because it's a sculpture? Or is it even Art? Does placing it in the Museum make it Art? What about a mural on a church wall? What about a vase? Or a textile?

I don't limit Art in terms of what is or is not Art. I do think that there are some qualifiers in regard to quality of the workmanship, but my definition of Art can encompass a great many things beyond drawing, painting and sculpture.

I have come to believe that art is giving ideas shape; art is the conscious use of creative imagination, and is in no way limited to the traditional forms historically imposed, but encompasses and includes a great many  things.

When I say shape I am referring to a form in which the work can be received. This description can and would include conceptual artists, performing artists and their works – it seems to me that the definition works equally  well for any art form, any medium, any discipline.

Taking the position that art is giving ideas shape, that it is the conscious use of creative imagination, allows us to accept as art a wider range of “ideas” made manifest than what the historical, European, male authority has designated as “art.” My idea of what art is has been, in part, formed by the fact that my practice includes
much that has been considered utilitarian craft by many art historians.

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