Fine Arts Column: Everything can be art?


Have you ever heard the maxim “everything can be art”? I can tell you I have, and it makes me cringe. It makes me think of countless strange philosophical or even theological discussions that were meant with good intentions but have gone wrong because of a misunderstanding of what “art” actually is.

I know that you may be thinking, “Wow, you’re such a snob.” Before someone threatens to call me a heretic, half-Catholic, or what have you, I must remind you that my faith is at the core of who I am and dictates my choices in my art craft. Furthermore, this is just my opinion.

The first thing I should point out is that everyone seems to have a slightly different understanding of what “art” is. Now, I understand that many simply describe “art” as anything beautiful; even helping someone who dropped their books or the smell of coffee on a cold day. Don’t get me wrong—as an artist I desire to find beauty in everything. I find joy in turning every little thing into poetry (often literally) and, of course, offering it to God.

However, I suggest that something theologically beautiful, or pleasing to the senses of smell, taste, or touch, is not art. I find immense beauty in those types of things, but they are not, for lack of better phrasing, true art … or perhaps fine art. They can, however, be turned into art.

Clearly, I have a different definition of the word “art” than many people today. Here is the dictionary description: “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” That is more so where I lie.

Art is a production or expression of something more beautiful than just ordinary significance. Paintings, writings, dances, plays, musicals, and songs all portray an expression of something beautiful and truthful.

Sure, helping out someone who fell down is a theologically and humanly beautiful thing. But it’s not art. Something can be beautiful but not fall under the category of art. Now, seeing someone perform that kind act in a play production with other story elements … that is art.

I think in the midst of all of those (well intended) discussions about “the art of a kind act” there is, in my opinion, a misuse of the name “art.” I won’t call everything a true art. Perhaps that’s just the nature of being a drama major whose entire academic career centers around art and the truth it provides. But honestly, this same type of thing can happen in other areas of study.

That being said, I still believe everyone has an artist in him or her. I discussed this in my column about music. But I also believe that in our language, such as it is, we misuse a lot of words and phrases. So, as a drama major, naturally I would be more cautious with certain words and phrases.

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