What’s your take on that? Does art have a purpose? Of course it does. But then again, why does it have to have a purpose? Why can’t art just be art? Like all things and like all people, majority of the time, we have to serve a purpose. What’s life without meaning?
Look at our history- the arts have moved people, initiated language, creativity, self-expression and innovation. The likes of Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci and Elvis Presley have procured life after death with their contribution to society.
To begin with, what is art to the artist? The arts – be it music, design, dance or literature – act as a platform of expression for a piece of their mind and soul. We see who they are and who they want to be with every stroke of a brush, every rhyme, every pluck of a chord and every adjective.
Moreover, art is therapy. There’s something therapeutic about art that no one can deny. People with disabilities find solace in the arts; others engage in catharsis wherein they express their repressed emotions; whilst some simply bask in its undeniable superpower to make you feel better. We all believe in the purpose of art to the artist, but when asked about the purpose of art to society, we shrug. And if we do answer, we resort to the usual ‘to entertain’ or ‘to look/sound pretty.’ Let’s put that shrug aside and ask: Is that all art is for?
Art goes beyond aesthetics- it’s not supposed to (just) look pretty, it’s supposed to make you feel something. Art captures moments of significance in our lives. It reminds us of the things that would otherwise be invisible, forgotten, or worse, taken for granted (our oh-so-human flaw).
No one openly discusses their suffering. Everyone wants a life that sounds blissful and perfect. Art acknowledges society’s suffering and imperfection. It’s an acceptable platform to pour your heart out. In this way, we mundane humans are consoled knowing that whatever we are feeling or thinking, we are not alone. And because of it, art helps us celebrate these difficult feelings – our pain is shared and that is consolation enough.
Just as art has the power to make us remember, it also has the power to make us forget. It can help let go of feelings of pain, rejection and distress. Art can make us forget about the past, the future, and intensify the feeling of the now.
If that’s not enough, art gives us hope. Hope found in the ability to connect and communicate. Hope in the things we already have and their significance to us. And hope in the future and the wonder for what it could and should be.
What could art be? What should art be? In the modern world, art is also used for advertising and promotion. However, rather than using art for propaganda in favour of materialism, superficiality, conformity, and violence, it should be used for good – Something that teaches us human values, and ethics, questions the norm and makes us step back and reflect.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Art is a strong influence in our lives and affects who we are – even if we don’t recognize it. Imagine a world without those splendid works of art that take us back years in time, or the lyrics and melodies of our contemporary bands and the expansive, soul-searching and life-changing world of books. “The earth without art is just… eh.”