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Art, according to Dissanayake (34), refers to visual things that members of society enjoy such as dancing, instrumental music, and singing. However, art is a wide concept that incorporates visual art and people’s culture as a form of art. Therefore, art not only includes the traditional art of sculpture, painting, and drawing, but encompasses a broad culture of human activities such as architecture, literature, paintings, and innovations. Human creativity that results in beauty is therefore considered an art in the modern age. Art as a disciple, take various forms, and depending on the recipient of the artistic material, art serves different purposes. For example, art can be used to generate new ideas; the ideas can serve different purposes depending on the interpretations of the user. Art is a skill that is meant to bring out emotions, beliefs, and creative thoughts through things such as exploration, imagination, fantasy, entertainment, ecstasy, or the use of a special kind of writing. This definition of art implies that art is a very broad subject and can not be exhausted by a single definition, but requires a description of what it does in order to derive its meaning
Role of art in society
Art is an excellent way of presenting ideas. These ideas can either improve social well-being or destroy it depending on how the ideas have been communicated and received by their audience. It follows suit that people should incorporate those ideas so as to make the work of art relevant. This is to say, people must first get to know the art either through viewing, listening, or reading. Thereafter, there is a need to accept the art and acknowledge it as a relevant means of changing society. Once society appreciates the art, it is upon them to take positive measures to conform to the lesson derived from the art. It is imperative to note that, art does not impact society positively without the society taking up the responsibility of incorporating art into their cultures or norms. Therefore, it can be asserted that one of the roles of art is to preserve the cultural trait and heritage of a community or society. Artists have the responsibility of ensuring this has happened either through the movie, writing of articles, or through music. Whichever way, culture should be preserved for the sake of future generations. This can only be done through art. Imagine a situation where Greeks had not indulged in art! Where would we be? We would have been in the dark concerning the ancient civilization, ancient Greece wars and would not have any clue about the beautiful culture practiced by the Greek people. Therefore, there is a need for cultural preservation through the employment of art (Tanner, p. 3).
Art plays a role in expressing one’s feelings and emotions. This is both to the user of the artistic material and the designer of the art. For instance, watching a fictions movie on either war, romance or adventure brings out the desire of the author or the viewer to explore something they really feel impress them and would wish to be like the person in the movie. Therefore, art offers a platform for individuals to express their feeling without in reality indulging in the supposed activity. In addition to the above mention roles, art is meant to impact society in a positive way and help individuals understand their past while forecasting how to improve their future. Take a case of the art of Biblical writing and narration that has helped shape up the present norms in our contemporary society. This art has impacted positively on the lives of many individuals who sometimes lose hope in life but are comforted positively by the Bible and hence move forward with life with further anticipation for better days. (Jonas 100). Art has some purpose or reason for its creation and plays a crucial role in an individual’s life. It is might be religious, symbolic, customary, or literal. Most African arts play symbolic roles, for example, jewelry, baskets, pottery, and clothing which symbolize the religious beliefs of various tribes. Although African art had not been recognized until recently, it has continued to inspire many people. For example, in Nigeria, people were tattooed as a symbol of courage and especially the king who was tattooed on the face.
Goals of art
Art can either be categorized as a subject on its own with various goals it aims to achieve. The major goal of art is to communicate. Take for example the drawings and sculptors of the ancient Greek people; they used to communicate a message. For instance, the curving of a Greek woman figure portrayed a sense of beauty in Greek women. This is a simple but very efficient way of communicating one’s ideas. Monuments as art might be used to display heroes that made an impact on society and therefore helps to communicate to the future generation about the national heroes.
Modern art is meant to reflect the reality on the ground through paintings and pictorial images (Schaeffer & Rendall, p. 279), According to them, the goal of art is to show the existing reality and avoid illusion expression of life. Through art, one can think of anything and draw an inference from it. For instance, the imagination of aliens in other planet by various movie stars is an indication of their imagination and helps create curiosity on the viewer and the need to know more. This curiosity creates room for further imaginative thinking that results into innovation for example, spaceship innovation to tour other planet.
Creativity is generated as a result of art. Art aims at generating new ideas and this is achieved through creativity. Creativity is born by the desire to explore new ventures and imaginative thinking. Art comes in to act as a bridge towards that creativity (Seckel & Hofstadter, p. 17). Another goal for art is the provision of entertainment. After a weary day, it would serve better for an individual to pass over a theater or a cinema hall to get refreshed through entertainment. This refreshes the mind, helps one to get over his/her stress and above all creates room for socialization. If there were no art, entertainment spots would not have been there, and this implies that even meeting the woman or man of your life would have become difficult because meeting place would have been limited to a few areas such as church or institutions. Talent is an in born thing and art provides an avenue for exposing this talent. Talents such as singing, acting in movies and drawing need to be groomed and exposed. This is where art comes in to facilitate and ensure that talent among various people in the society is well nurtured. Finally, art aims at portraying ritualistic and symbolic functions, take for example, magicians or witchcraft practices in African society, though most people have not encountered witchcraft in real life, are exposes these practices through, drawing and painting. People are given a glimpse of some symbolic features of the underworld through work of art (Schaeffer & Rendall, p. 279). According to some artist such as Mr. Long in his book theory of art, the goal of art is to provide meaningful-world. That is, art is aimed at creation of a meaningful-world that rotates around giving individuals deeper understanding of various experiences created by art. Therefore, art as a whole aims at explaining in details what it is to be fully human in practice and with a specific aim of enlightenment. Another goal of art is to provide entertainment to individuals through drama, music, writings and movie. Though this is not the main goal of at, it is asserted that entertainment is healthy for an individual’s peace of mind and refreshment after a stressful day of work. In addition, art is normally used for spiritual sustenance. Imagine a situation where art did not exist, individuals would have suffered, from lack of creativity and expression that has meaning spiritual impact on many people. For example, the art of various cultures reflects what a society really is and the relationship with the surrounding environment. They sort to example the origin of the culture and prescribe the norms of the society so that each and every member feels some attachment with the spiritual world by observing these norms. Finally, since the world is made out of art, art has a goal to act as a form of personal expression. Both in public and private property, art portrays a personal expression of beauty or inspiration and individuals love to see how others express themselves.
Responsibilities of artists to society
Artists, in collaboration with other development organization, have the responsibility of using art to come up with community development programs that focuses on the plight of different communities. For example, coming up with an initiate to combat AIDS epidemic in African through the use of art such music, movies and some drawing will impact positively on the society by creating awareness. Since they act as role models to many people, the message portrayed would easily sink into peoples mind and a caution would be exercised. This development program should include cultural preservation items in them to ensure continuity of the culture to the next generation. This will act as an opportunity for the artist to interact with the community, share their views and emotions, express their interest and above all develop new ideas out of the interaction (Jonas, p. 100).
Artists have the responsibilities of acting as activists in the society. In the world today, various problems manifest themselves for example, global warming, terrorism, poverty, excessive pollution by companies, malnutrition especially in less developed countries and the civil wars a case in point being the recent Congo crisis in Africa. Artists, through the use of their art can change all this and make the world a better place. What they have to do, is take up the responsibility of openly and persistently criticizing the concerned victim. This can be through there art or open campaign against these vices. As role models it would be easier to agitate for these changes since they can be easily had.
In conclusion, it can be asserted that the world cannot live without art. Art reflects life and without it, it would be impossible for people to understand themselves and also up coming generation would not understand their past. It is therefore important for art to be nurtured among individuals for the preservation of human cultures and traditions and to ensure the expression of beauty.
- Dissanayake, Ellen. What is Art For? Washington: University of Washington Press, 1990: 33 55
- Jonas, Hans. The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985
- Schaeffer, Jean-Marie, Steven Rendall. Art of the Modern Age: Philosophy of Art from Kant to Heidegger. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000
- Seckel, AL, Douglas R. Hofstadter. Masters of Deception: Escher, Dalí & the Artists of Optical Illusion. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2004
- Tanner, Jeremy. The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation. London: Cambridge University Press, 2006:2-10