Copyright David Belt 2012
What is art?
I did an interview here on Darkcargo in July during which I refer to crafting as being two-dimensional and art as three-dimensional. I developed this idea of three-dimensional art after being posed the question “What is art?”
Before art could be defined, I had to first develop a broad definition for crafting that would encompass every craft that can be art, then determine what factor changes a crafting piece into artwork. I came up with three dimensions. Both crafting and art have the first two, but only art has the third dimension, thus distinguishing art from crafting.
I’ll start with the first dimension: Form. All crafts require a form of some kind, and it is this dimension upon which most crafts are critiqued. There are as many forms are there are ideas in the world. For the purposes of this topic, I am going to the limit the scope to my favorite forms: Writing, Dance, Music, and Sculpting. Each of these forms has many sub-cultures, each with a unique form of their own: Poetry, Prose, Rock, Jazz, Clay, Chainmaille, etc. An artisan will toil for many long hours perfecting the form of their chosen craft.
The second dimension of all crafts is Color. Color doesn’t necessarily mean the literal spectrometric properties of a craft, but rather the crafter’s chosen style within the given form. In writing, this would be the specific vocabulary and sentence structure used. In Dance, it would be the particular movements. For Music, it would be instrumental and vocal components, and in sculpting, it would be the medium and shape. In short, the color of a craft is that which we physically perceive: what we see, feel, hear, even touch and taste.
All arts and crafts have both form and color, but only art has the third dimension: Depth. Depth is the element of art that reaches out to a person on a cerebral level. It’s the part in a book that makes you cry when you feel a character’s pain. It’s the enactment in dance that speaks volumes of the dancer’s character without uttering a word. It is the beat of the music that wills your body to move. It is life emulated in sculpture that reminds us of where we have been and where we might be.
In my before named interview, I was asked, “What am I seeing when I look at a Belts & Chains designed piece?” My response was simply, “Me.” An artist puts themselves into their artwork, and it is that reflection of the artist you see and feel. The depth of the artist’s reflection determines depth of the art. This is a personal reaction that is different for each individual that views the art. Therefore, what is art to you may not be art to me, if you feel something from a particular piece, and I do not.
Since everything has both form and color, I encourage you stop looking at them. Instead, look for the depth in everything. Appreciate what matters to you, not what some critic says is “stylistically intriguing.” See the artist in the artwork; see the humanity the in piece. Let your day be a little brighter knowing you are connected to another human through the depth of their artwork.
If you are an aspiring artist, let me leave you with this bit of advice. Do not fret so much the form or color of your work. Those things will come with time, study, and practice. Focus on yourself, and let that come out in your work. We’ll meet somewhere in that third dimension, and I’ll look forward to getting to know you through the depth of your art.