What is the meaning of art? This is a question I have been asking myself lately as I pursue my interest in photography. Famed photographer Dorthea Lange was quoted as saying, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Not so long ago that would not have made sense to me. Now I think I am coming to understand what Lange meant.
When my friend Marty handed me a camera recently and said, “Go ahead, have fun,” I don’t think he realized the impact it would have on me. Neither did I. Now I am beginning to see what the camera sees: the world with depth of field and quality of light. It is all in what you choose to focus on, no pun intended.
The question of “what is art?” is something that has been rattling around in my brain of late. According to Merrian-Webster’s trusty old dictionary, the word “art” comes from the Old English word “eart” or the Old Norse word, “est”.* To me “art” means “is.” The state of existing, just being. Art for art’s sake? That it is...but it is so much more...and so much less.
So this in mind, I am pursuing my “art”. What I do just is. It is me and it is what I see. I capture my “is-ness” in the pictures I take these days and the words I write.
To me, this is art, living life in the now and finding ways to share it, one moment at a time. So, artfully I go, in every sense of the word. And soon I will remove the quotes from the word “artist” when I am describing myself as one who creates “art”.
* Origin of ART Middle English, from Old English eart; akin to Old Norse est, ert (thou) art, Old English is is. For the full dictionary definition go to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/art