Graham

The Fine Arts Are Alive and Well

In Fine Arts on August 28, 2008 at 3:04 am

This has been quite an amazing week for me. What started out as a few observations on my feelings about the fine arts (traditionally paintings, music, and literature, but evolved to include stage plays, movies and photographs and even silliness posing as art), turned into an opportunity to exchange ideas with a group of high school kids through a program called the Fine Arts Survey.

What made the week so amazing is that there really are kids out there who really do dig the arts, who enjoy discussing their ideas about what art means to them, or who aren’t afraid of asking the hard questions while they struggle to understand this little piece of a very large universe. And believe me, sometimes they can get pretty deep about nuances of meaning and the difficulties of seeing meaning in ambiguity.

I actually considered not posting my blog (What Makes Art, Music or Literature Great?) because I was concerned that nobody would read it. After arguing with myself for a couple of days (an argument I lost, obviously) I decided to post it with an apology. The apology was a short statement of what I perceived to be the facts, that I knew it would have limited appeal, and that we would get back on track next week.

Well I didn’t know, it turns out, and thank heaven that I didn’t act on what I understood to be indisputable knowledge of the facts. The arts are alive and well precisely because they are so open to interpretation, and anybody can have an opinion about what art is or isn’t, and whether or not it is great or not-so-great. We the people now have as much right to own the arts as the critics once did. And we are, as often as not, able to pick out greatness without the assistance of an expert.

I know that last statement scares my Western Civilization (PhD, Harvard) professor, and I still see a role for him (I will let you form your own opinion about what that role might be), but he is no longer the driver, he is no longer in charge. I guess you might say there has been a revolution in the last few decades and the good guys won. I guess you realize what this means … I take back my apology, and you will probably get another shot at expressing your opinions on art in the near future.

Click on the Copyright Statement if you want to start early.

Copyright © 2008 by Tad Laury Graham

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