I took a contemporary art history class and was exposed to artists and types of work I never knew existed. It’s a general education course for my major, and at first I wasn’t excited that this course was mandatory. However, this class taught me a lot about what "art" really is.
From Jackson Pollock to Judy Chicago to Chuck Close and Faith Ringgold, I’ve seen a lot of art works. Some that resemble an epileptic fit of colors on a canvas, others thought out meticulously and created carefully. With some pieces I’m in awe — dumbstruck from the amount of talent and creativity I’m seeing. Others are offensive (and I use that term loosely, these days every thing and anything will offend someone), while others yet feel like an insult to my intelligence. Others still make me want to do weird things in public for shock value in the name of art (Marina Ambramovic anyone?) To this day, the class constantly makes me ponder the question, “What is art?” I know I’m not the first to ask, and I certainly won’t be the last.
I’m a writer first and foremost, but I also dabble in drawing. I’ve filled my fair share of sketchbooks and doodling is second nature when bored in class or on the telephone. Writing is a soulful exercise for me, and in some regards drawing is too (although I’ve done it less often over the years.) I usually draw to music that moves me. A guitar riff that lends itself to a character, a melody that belongs to a certain scene. Although most of my drawings are Japanese Anime style creations, I’ve had a desire to expand my artistic reach.
But where do you start? I’m unwilling to pay for formal training, and I’m not disciplined enough for self-study. For years I let my pens, inks, paints and sketchbooks collect dust because I was afraid to look juvenile or silly in the things I created. Contemporary Art History blasted that insecurity out of the water.
I realize that art has nothing to do with something looking a certain way. Heck, the stuff you create doesn’t even have to make sense. Sometimes, the creation of the work is the art itself…the end result is just something to look at. The class has liberated me from my preconceived notions of what “fine art” should be, and led me to focus on the message in my soul instead of the medium or execution. As such, I've dusted off my notebooks and started sketching again.
We get so caught up in being "great" or "perfect" that we suck the joy out of the thing we love to do or just want to explore. If you're a creator, create for the sake of creating. Art doesn’t have to be painted or drawn. All it has to do is make a statement — even if the statement is nothing at all. Create in your most natural medium. A combination of dream, soul, mind, heart, the known and the imagined. Do this and you will be heard.