Originally created 03/01/05

Artist is art's only confining obstacle

As an aspiring artist, I'm interested in anything to do with art. In the past few years, I've had the opportunity to visit a variety of museums - from the Tate Modern in London to New York City's Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum. In between these visits, I've seen street exhibits and local photographers. Looking at some of my own artistic interests led me to a fascinating question: What is the limit of art?

People have many ideas of what "art" is. At the mention of the word, many might think of a gallery, or of a particular painting, but there are so many sides to it that might get overlooked.

One ever-expanding boundary of art is its use in everyday life. Today, art is both traditional and functional, existing not only within but also outside the museum. The design of a building and graphic design - the art of displaying products and marketing ideas - are only a couple of components that people might not notice.

"Album covers, DVD covers, packaging design, book covers, road signs, logos. Some people just don't realize how much a good design can sway their choices," said Joe Kay, a local freelance designer.

Mr. Kay indirectly suggests another expanding boundary. Whereas traditional forms of art call attention to themselves (think of the work of artists from Rembrandt to Picasso), design art moves attention away from itself.

"If someone looks at a magazine and is floored by what a great piece of 'art' the design is but pays no attention to the magazine or what it wishes to convey, the design has failed," Mr. Kay said.

Art is everywhere we look; art is what you see in museums, and art is what you see on the walls at home. Art is all around. The graffiti on the train or side of the building is art to somebody. Your shirt, your shoes, your chair, your entire home is one giant product of art and design.

Even when we explore the world of museum art, we realize the boundaries have always been bending and expanding. Looking at the variety of work on display at the current faculty exhibit at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta reinforces this conclusion. The styles, the subject matter and the media represent a world rich in artistic opportunity. The world is filled with contemporary art forms, from folk art to impressionism, explained Kevin Grogan, the director at the Morris.

As such, an artist's job becomes that of trying to find something new: trying to find a new idea, a new way of painting, even a new surface to paint on.

"We as humans have limits any way you slice it. These limits seem to be loosening every day," Mr. Kay said.

Art can be looked at as nothing but a search for beauty and limitlessness, or a sense of it. Perhaps no boundaries ever existed. The issue is not which media one uses or the form of expression. The boundaries of art, "human possibility" as Mr. Kay would put it, aren't found within the piece, the actual work, but in the ideas, in the artist. The person who sees creativity in places we don't - who sees possibility when we see nothing unusual - is what art is all about; modern art, at least.

The important thing is that art makes our world a bit more beautiful. The limit might not be art's but our own ability to appreciate art. Next time you take a walk, stop to look at a building and see architecture, to look at a magazine and see a design (or don't, as Mr. Kay would hope), and to look at an artist and respect him (or her) a little more.



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