Is Art a Luxury? by Karin Taylor
Copyright Karin Taylor 2013
Is art a luxury or is it something we cannot afford to be without? I ask the question, because it was heavy on my mind, that in this current economic climate where everything is so uncertain and our peace of mind is difficult to find, do we abandon our fondness for the finer things, or do we continue to have them in smaller proportions. The reason I ask is, because it occurs to me that during such a time as this, when we are thrust into big worries and anxiety about the future, how do we step back into mindfulness, living in the moment, putting worries to one side and giving the brain a gentle break, or applying some brakes to forging into the future, so that we can still enjoy a little bit of today. The way I do it, is to step into another world, yes, call it escapism and I’m not saying I do it all the time, but yes, in order to create something, I put on my artisan’s uniform, gather up my pencils, erasers and such, and embark on little journeys that take me into the present moment as I draw and paint. This creates little breaks from the frustrations of life, from worrying about the future. Breaks we all need. Art is such a break, it gives us an opportunity (whether we are art lovers who view art, or artisans who create the art) to apply ourselves to philosophise, to enjoy beauty, to allow ourselves to be transparent and let our guard down, it gives us an opportunity to converse and interact with ourselves, others, a higher power. Just like taking a walk in the park or a swim in the sea, it allows the intensity of life to be peeled back and the simplicity and joy of just reacting to some stimulus that is positive, back in for a few moments, and this in itself recharges our batteries, resets us, and can enable us to get back on the path with a more positive outlook. I think little breaks, such as viewing art, being creative, enjoying nature etc, also inspire us to become more creative thinkers, and to employ more creative solutions to our problems. Therefore, I would summise that the answer to my question, is ‘no’, art is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Quite the opposite to my opinion in the past, when I viewed the idea from a different conceptual perspective, that art was indeed a luxury, because it was a selfish activity I did which took me away from my family and friends, it was an indulgent act which I found hard to reconcile myself with. Now I see that it is neither selfish or unselfish. It is necessary in order for a creative person or artisan to feel fulfilled and whole. It is also necessary for art lovers who find that their sense of wellbeing also stems from enjoying creative works, and why not. There is a sense, that all things are created in some way, even if by machines, there was first a mastermind behind the creation. I think we forget that all things are created. Even things like cars. When we look at the world with this perspective, we retain or regain a sense of awe. This sense of awe stems from the joy of seeing things with fresh eyes, and it is only possible, when perspective shifts and our understanding arrives at a new place. It is relatively easy to think we can simply recreate something we’ve seen or judge something we think is uncomplicated, but unless we strive to create, or strive to understand the artisan’s journey, we can never appreciate the arrival of the creation and what labour was spent in the process. All this creates a sense of wonder and promotes the increasing possibility and hopefully the permanence of the presence of spontaneous moments of joy. Each spontaneous moment of joy, leading to the next and so forth, until our lives are dotted with more joy than misery. I think that’s why nature gives me such a buzz, and it’s on tap, even if you live in the city, nature finds a way to present itself to you constantly. It takes a new way of looking though, to visit an object, animal or created art with eyes that are willing to see from the perspective of the creator and not judge with the heart of a cynic who is tired from the daily strife of life.
Art is a necessity.