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Does Art Solve A Problem?

by Stede Barber on 4/10/2015 8:05:47 AM

This post is by guest author, Stede Barber.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 30,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.


In this economy and in the western world where artists are often considered to be low on the ladder in terms of the value they add to society, artists can have a hard time believing what they do is of any true value. In a practical-minded, monetizing, fear and lack-based society, art is often considered self-indulgent and a luxury for those who have the time and can afford it.


Yet, somehow we know the arts - film, books, plays, paintings, sculpture, etc. - are an essential part of a life worth living. The Monuments Men (book or movie) and Saving Italy (book, by the same author) profoundly express why men, women, and governments risked their lives during World War II and gave their all to saving art...they put themselves on the line because of how they answered the question, What are we fighting for, if we lose the beauty and history of humanity in the process?

I believe that by understanding and honoring our natural need for the arts,  we would see less suffering, unhappiness, violence, and pain in the world, and an increase in happiness, health, fulfillment, and well-being.


Business inspiration Marie Forleo ably quotes Picasso:

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”Pablo Picasso


Think of the times a movie made you feel better, laughter from a comedian lifted your spirits, a painting stopped you in your tracks, a photograph brought back sweet, long-forgotten memories, any work of art lifted you and changed you somehow for the better...


Art is natural to us. Humans have always painted, etched images into stone, added beauty to daily utensils. Beauty is part of our nature, and of living a fulfilling life. 


Art is amazing...and as close to us as our breath. How much beauty are you allowing yourself? 




Editor's Note:  You can view Stede's original post here.


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Related Posts:

Why Can't Artists Be Like Writers?

The Meaning of Artistic Life - in Russian

What Is Your Art Worth And Where In The World Is It?

Art Transforms Lives

Topics: art and culture | art appreciation | creativity | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

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The folly of pondering any "value or worth" becomes amusing as I embrace oldness. 'Things' I never valued are now priceless and 'things' I once would pay any price for are worthless. All we can ever own are the moments when we connect to another soul. Art, music, smiles, our very breath, and touch are 'things' that hold a promise of that connection and consolation that affirms living. Assigned value is transient, acclaim and following ever changing. The value that the marketplace assigns our work is just one thing. Believing in the value our effort to create art and the depth of experience it provides is another. The compromises, sacrifices and sufferings I encounter are shared with all artist-in all times. The connection is who we are and what we own and we are all defined by the rules of light and life and time.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Stede..

This article is so beautifully stated. Thank you.

Truly, if people simply looked around, even in their homes, they will see the results of Art. And not only in artwork that hangs on their walls.
Art surrounds us, no matter where we are.

I read the book, "The Monument Men" and saw the movie. It was amazing how these men gave their all for saving artworks. They knew and respected how important it is to the soul of man and women.
Take away art and there is nothing left. Nothing! Even the clothing we wear.

Love that quote by Pablo Picasso.

Perry Austin

If you will look at the opening page of my website I have posted a comment from a collector who just purchased one of my paintings. It makes abundantly clear why it is worth it!


Esther J. Williams
Stede, this topic is addressed in the introduction of a book, "Design Fundamentals" by Robert Gillam Scott, Associate Professor in the Dept of Design, Division of the Arts, Yale Univ. 1951. He states that creating fulfills human needs. Take one example; ancient Athenian decorative vases were designed to fulfill a utilitarian and economic need of the city's people. The vase began to be traded around the world and now many of these extraordinary works of art rest in museums. He states that above their utiltarian purpose they were a joy to behold. They told stories with spirit, wit and elegance, they were unmistakably made with love and satifaction as well as with clay. Most of their value came from answering needs that were not material. It was a fundamental human need we share with every soul who ever lived. Scott stated that he rather not call it beauty. He said it is the need for joy and honesty in our own work and for their expression in the work of others. This goes for all of the arts, I believe it will stay with us into infinity.
When I create art, I am expressing that need from within to give birth to a colorful creation that will fulfill mankind's need to reach into the human and earth spirit, as it is beautiful in it's raw essence.

Rayla-Jeanne Klepetko
Beautifully well said. I appreciated your including ALL of the arts in your comments.

I have committed the last ten years to teaching art from a Judeo-Christian perspective. The ancient sages of Judaism have taught that mankind is God creation that links the spiritual world with the physical and our purpose for life is to elevate mankind to that higher, spiritual state less we become animals. The arts, as you so poignantly described, do exactly that. From that perspectively the arts are essential if we are to avoid being totally debased.

It is so good, through FineArtsViews, to find other artists and thinkers who are thinking and feeling along the same lines that I'm discovering.

Phil Moncuse
I wish to thank the author for addressing this topic in such a concise and meaningful way. As one who still aspires to become a successful artist (success encompasses many things), I have been struggling with the feeling of the potential futility of that endeavor for some time now. It is very re-assuring to know that there is still a consensus for meaning in the making of art and that it is not a futile endeavor as it may sometimes appear. As I strive to begin painting once again despite years of working -the day job”, I often refer to Picasso's quote of -washing off the dust of everyday life” through the experiencing of art to re-affirm the sense of necessity the arts maintain. Thank you, again, for an insightful article.

Donald Fox
Art endures because it is infused with the human spirit, that part of the human spirit that reaches beyond self, beyond limitation, beyond ignorance, beyond suffering, beyond dogma, and beyond exclusion. Art is for everyone though it may not be recognized or embraced by everyone. In the past, and sometimes in the present, art has been or is feared, vilified, censored, and nullified, but like any force of nature, art renews itself through the cracks and crannies of human experience to reach back into the light.

Carolyn Hancock
Stede and Faso, I hope you don't mind that I linked this article on my facebook profile. It is so in line with a conversation among friends just two days ago. Thanks for putting it out.

Walter Paul Bebirian
well - it is a reality that our society - humankind - mankind - the all of humanity is made up of many different kinds of people all thinking and acting in many different ways and within the whole there are so many variations that is difficult to fathom or imagine at any given point in time how and if anyone is like anyone else and therefore the perception(s) of the many different individuals that make up the whole are so varied and diverse at any point in time that it is extremely hard to say when and if any single individual will feel as much passion about art and humanity the same as anyone else and so it is nice to proclaim such things as have been expressed here but it also another thing to hit the individual during the course of the day - the week - the month - the year or during the individual's lifetime at which point he or she turns to art with an openness and an abandonment to allow any type of art to penetrate through whatever else makes up the major part of any of the people's lives -

I suggest - submit - observe and sometimes wonder if - when - how any piece or work - or performance of art is allowed to enter into any of the lives of the millions of people that I observe passing me each and every day in the streets of Manhattan or elsewhere (wherever I happen to be --- handing out my business cards in an attempt to introduce these passer by folks to my art collection) since I have encountered so many of them who - after receiving my card and stating that they do want to at least look at what I offer them - they do not have the time -

What instead fills the minds - bodies and hearts of the individuals in society today is a big mystery to me - to you and I am for certain sure that it is most probably a big mystery to many of these individuals as well - since exactly how and what their lives are continually interrupted with and by become too much to even stay aware of - and keep up with from one moment to the next -

Brian Sherwin
Art can be beautiful. It can also explore the darker side of our existence. Many of the works labeled 'degenerate' by the Nazi's did not explore beauty for the sake of beauty. For example, some of the 'degenerate' work revealed the horror of trench warfare during WWI, class struggles at the time, and other socially engaging themes. In a sense, they were attacking art that went against the Nazi view of beauty.

Stede Barber
I enjoyed reading all of your comments, and apologize for such a lengthy response time. My article was posted the day after I left for a no-media retreat, and I am just catching up with this now.

I recently heard a description of "skunk love" which also seems to apply here...skinks repel many, but their own kind think they smell in all of our endeavors, we have those who are in sync with us, and those who aren't...I keep that in mind as I listen to and observe reactions to my own and other's creations.

Brian, you bring up a significant point that is an entire topic art fulfills many different roles, and is expressed for many different purposes. One of the aspects that I feel is important for an artist is to understand their essential need to create, and honor it, with the understanding and hopefully acceptance that other creatives have a different purpose to fulfill. For reasons known only to someplace in me, I focus on the mystery and beauty of life, and on what is uplifting. Even when I paint to express grief, what comes out of me is usually a healing expression of love and appreciation for what I value. I know others who have other innate expressions, and my sense is, each is significant and important.

Thank you all, it is wonderful to know I walk with others on a similar path.


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