Why should anyone care about Art? Does Art do anything for people? For society? Should it? Should people care?
In the philosophically relative times we live in I find it very interesting to talk with so many people about art and hear so many definitions of what art is. I would propose the question, if we do not know what art is, how can we make it? Similarly, if we do not know what is the purpose of the artist, how can an artist intentionally fulfill that purpose?
From my observations, art does two things, not unrelated. The first purpose of art is to express something of what it is to be human. Art talks about the experience of living. In drawing or painting, the artist does this visually. In music they do it audibly. In poetry it can be written or oral. And on and on. Whatever the artist, a purpose of the work is to express something about the world from their own point of view. This sounds basic, but without the intention, it is hard to accomplish. Maybe this is the difference between students and professionals. The student studies everything for the purpose of learning. The work a student does is very broad and inclusive. The professional has an opinion and a focus.
Another function of art is that it assigns a value. When an artist creates a work one statement the artist makes, by default, is the emphasis of the work. The artist says:
"You should think about this."
"This is important."
"This has value."
By sheer virtue of the artist paying attention to something, and others looking at it, it gives it a measure of importance. Similar to the saying "Any press is good press". Don't we pay attention to things of importance? So if the artist gets people to pay attention to their work, doesn't that give it some additional importance?
I think artists should be mindful of this. If you're an artist you should talk about the important things in your life in your work. This gives some additional value to those things, and as a result, some additional value to living in a world with it. Whether it's an idea, another person, or the planet itself. This is what I love about drawing or painting other people. It says that the other person is valuable! I believe this! It gets me fired up!
I also want to add, this is what really riles me about a perspective of "modern art". "modern art" says that portraits or landscapes are old ways of painting, old ways of doing things, and we need to always be on a quest for something new and different (notice, not necessarily on a quest for anything better). Have people lost value? Is the planet not worth paying attention to? This is a load of nonsense. People have value. The planet we live on has value. LIVING has value.
THIS is the purpose of the artist. The artist gives value to life, to living, by stating the importance of the life and world around them.