Art and Aesthetics in Action

Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn

In this perspective, I offer sketches of my own. They represent my explorations into human nature and our problems together. The sketches are not just my nature, my moods and problems alone, which they are of course, they are equally the nature, moods, and problems of others.

You could say that I did these pieces for fun but they also express what others feel about life. And they should reveal the issues of aesthetics as a discipline. In a parody on revolutions past, you could say that I made these works the subject of my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

 I argue that like explorations by others could advance the effort to bring aesthetics back into society. These simple pieces are of course dialogues with myself, but as you shall see, they are about who we are in our association.

There is a bit of poetry in this perspective on art.

The spoken word is not sufficient to tell the story of our life. Talk is rational and can be cheap. Words in sentences speak so little of what is fully there. It is helpful to talk in sentences, but this type of straight language tells only a tiny part of who we are. Sentences glide easily off the tongue, but they also hide our nature.

We become sentenced; sentenced by a sentence, so to speak. Yes.

Words that go straight, like when an object follows a subject, are not enough. Words that stand alone, on the other hand, and words that curve into a rhyme, and words that arch into a stanza, or into music, shift us from thought to feeling. Our spirit then speaks.

There is more. When fine words fail to convey our meaning, we shape our feelings into clay and wood and stone. The craft then connects us with the rest of our nature. We see that the craft is of no less value to us than the fine art.

So I do not hesitate to share my work with you because art is not just for professionals. Professional art cannot substitute for our life. Art should be our subject for life.

Art that we label simple and unprofessional can actually be complex, a paradox perhaps. When we look at the artwork of children, we often discover beauty in their simplicity in ways we had never thought or seen or felt before. Children teach us how to see the world.

Children who have been traumatized might draw a picture of terror. We may see a distorted figure before us, which is their pain. It could tell us more than their words. Our witness of the twisted figures they draw then informs us about ourselves. A close observation tells us what we have forgotten in our life. A child will reveal that to us.

Here is the key point. The art of children is of no less value than that which we see in museums. The art of children and the art of “amateurs” are the stories of our life in society. They speak of our dread, our death, our terror, our rage, our grief, our hope, and our dreams.

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