Everything is Art
What is Art?
I had a textbook in college called What is Art? It was for a class about the critical theories of art, and all semester long we were plagued by that question.
What is art? Is it simply something created? Does it need to be intentional, as in, not made by elephants? Does it need to be tasteful, created out of materials that will not gross anybody out? Or would that just make it bad art? Is art just an attempt to communicate with people?
Learn to See the World as Art
Art in Everyday Life
I was examining the bottles of mouthwash and soap on the counter in our bathroom before class one morning. I thought about the art majors who had gone to school just like I did, studying graphic design and art theories, and now were designing soap bottles. No one really considers the person who designs their soap bottle, but somebody did. Some artist with a vision of how to make that soap bottle look as appealing as possible. For them, that soap bottle is a work of art.
So I started wondering what else is art? What else do I pass by everyday and not appreciate as art? And the more I started looking for art, the more I realized that absolutely anything could be art, if I looked at it in the right way.
Art as a Way of Seeing
But art is not just things. Art is not just the shoes that I wear, but the way that I walk in those shoes. Every movement I make can be a step in a dance, every word that I utter can be a line in a poem. The confident movement of my fingers across the keyboard feels like a rhythmic dance, as they type out words that bring life and beauty to others.
Everything is art! Everything. From the sunrise in the morning, to the stretching of your muscles as you pull yourself out of bed. From the way the barista designs your coffee to the manner in which you drink it. From the shadows that play across your face as you drive to work, to the way you interact with the people you meet there.
Appreciating the World
I had a professor who encouraged us to "live artfully." He encouraged us to be open to the possibilities of the world around us. Be open to how the litter you pull out of the river can be an art form. Be open to how your life, your everyday activities can be turned into art. He wanted us to blur the lines between what is art and what is life.
And most importantly, he wanted us to be open to the people around us. To be prepared to stop and listen to their stories that we almost walk right past. To be open to learn about people we never thought would interest us. To be open to new ideas, new ways of life, and new friends to help us understand what the meaning of all this huge work of art is.
How much more beautiful will our world be when we take everything that comes our way, the good and the bad, as a part of the art process that makes up our lives? How much more will we appreciate and accept our world, when we see the trash, the graffiti, the dead grass and the live grass, for the possibilities that they hold? And how much more will we learn and grow closer to other people if we learn to see more than our first impressions? More than our ideas that they could not possibly be people we can appreciate?
Art is a way of seeing, a way of looking past our first impression and seeing the beauty within.
And when we do that, we'll see that there is beauty hidden in everything.