Art in the past has been a symbol of our collective aspirations Essay

Art in the past has been a symbol of our collective aspirations and desires. The emphasis on beauty and the perfection of form and technique stood for the values that were held in high regard then. Times have changed, however, and rather than fix our gazes on our manufactured ideals, we have learned to peer into the mundane and highlight everything from small observations of our day to day life to the ills of society.

No longer does the collective determine what a piece or collection of art means.

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We are able and encouraged to participate in creation and consumption of art. No longer is art limited to conventional media or to lofty concepts. The ether is our canvass, and no objects (not even religious symbols) are exempt from our attempt to brand our strife and struggle on to everything we touch. Art is ever so grounded in the nuances of the human condition and is made better because of it.

Art is sacred now not because of our fearful regard of an artist’s brilliance and of the vagaries they preach, but because the themes we draw from mirror subjects we all empathize with on a personal level. This democratization of art in the contemporary movement even encourages participation from its consumers, taking as much meaning from authorial intent and as from viewer input. Contemporary art requires our heads, hearts and hands, as we are encouraged to take the artists’ viewpoint and contribute to or challenge it. Contemporary art becomes a conversation; it is discourse on the canvass, and art in our discussion.

It was said by Cesar A. Cruz in 1997 that “art must comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”. The contemporary art movement does this paradoxically. In its attempt to bring into light the ugly struggles that permeate our lives, the grit and despair are suddenly thrust into our view, often in awe-inspiring and beautiful compositions. It is in this disruption of our routine and comfort that we realize how a lot of our notions of conventional beauty come at the expense of the Sabels and Brown Brothers of our world. Indeed, while the struggles and sentiments comfort us in the fact that we are not alone in our struggles, we must also learn to be disturbed by the beauty they present and to be mindful of the small things we label as inconveniences. Art liberates us from the restraints of our individual privilege and insignificance, our willful ignorance and the limitations of our knowledge, and the censorship of our authorities.

Contemporary art is our voice, our collective presence on canvass. It is a call to consciousness, and a cry against the control and indifference around us.

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