Standing, looking at an artwork in a gallery recently I found myself asking, who is the artist? At one level the answer is obvious – the person who created the object. But the tricky bit is they may or may not be the person/s who decided it was art.
A recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia of Aboriginal art is a case in point. The early objects on exhibit became “art” when a curator determined they were. Before that they were objects the community created to give meaning to their lives. There were no artists just the people making the works.
And, I will confess here, I find the idea of being an artist a little bit diminishing. It is possible to be a lawyer because other people aren’t one (I know at least that I am not a lawyer). But if I decide I am an artist does that mean I wasn’t one before or that you aren’t one?
The truth is we are all artists or at least have the potential be. And so being an artist is really little different than being human. At least if we allow ourselves to be fully human.
And whether the things we make are considered to be “art” or not, I guess we will have to leave that to the critics.