What does art mean, and why should it matter to non-art students?
By Liz Spinozzi, Contributor
I have always been able to draw. As a matter of fact, I have always been able to look at an image and redraw it identically. I recall getting a perfect grade for my replica of Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. For those unfamiliar with this painting, it’s the one where, as hinted in the name, he has his ear freshly cut off and wrapped in an undoubtedly unsanitary bandage framing his face.
Art class was always taken for boosting my grade point average and never for releasing creativity, which I insisted I lacked. That is, until I realized that the art I was making was not raw and unfiltered like the pieces I encountered at the VAV Gallery, during the Sites of Embodied Silence vernissage on March 14.
As one of the ten exhibits in the Art Matters Festival running until March 26, this was my first experience with artwork and artists who create as a need to function in their everyday lives. Berirouche Feddal, one of the artists in the exhibition, said, “I put all of my imagination into artwork as a way of digesting my emotions and facing what I’m going through, show it to the world, then move on.” He added that without this process, he cannot take his mind off his inner turmoil, as “art is liberation.”
I realized that art is a lot more intimate than that, which is not something that can be taught at school.
Being raised by a hockey coach and playing the sport myself, my coping mechanisms fall to competition, so naturally, I could not grasp this level of vulnerability. I also felt the need to specify that I was not an expert as to justify my ‘incorrect’ interpretations.
However, I recall looking at a particular piece and saying, “that’s an image from American Horror Story,” to which someone behind me replied, “exactly, I didn’t think anyone would see that.” That someone was Dougy Herard, the artist.
The artist’s validation stopped my justifying. I did not associate his piece with his original message, which Herard said was to “convey false representation of Haitian culture as the movies and media does.” However, I did become more comfortable vocalizing my interpretation.
By Zach Lumbroso, Contributor
As an aspiring comedian, I was taught that seeking new ways to trigger your creativity and discover your mind and body is essential to your growth as an actor. This is why I decided to attend and write about Exploring the Intuitive Creative Process, led by Jacqueline Van de Geer in collaboration with the Art Souterrain and Art Matters festivals on March 16.
When I told Van de Geer that I was writing this piece from the point of view of a non-artist, she answered by quoting German artist Joseph Beuys, “Everyone is an artist.” It is a concept that she lives by: “There is inspiration and creation in everybody.”
The four hour workshop first asked participants to explore their impulses through instinctive movement. This wasn’t anything new to me, as it is most of what I do in my elective theater classes at Concordia… something I usually find quite boring. Only this time, there was one significant difference, I was surrounded by artists. As formerly overweight, I’m still not completely comfortable with my image and work involving the body is super intimidating and challenging for me.
Van de Geer began by saying that this initiative was “to offer an afternoon where the brain is kind off and less important for a change.” After the movement work, she proceeded to a creative writing exercise where she would give us the beginning of a sentence that we would then have to finish, spontaneously. The journalism student in me could not conceive how one could write anything without thinking it through.
As the workshop proceeded, I realized that again, no one was grading me. I was able to give in, particularly in the creative writing portion where I was pleased to see that I could rise to the occasion. A difference remained, however—the other artists seemed to be at ease with showcasing their restless imaginations.
I learned, throughout this event, that art can be as simple as reproducing an image with a pencil. But it is also much more. Art is introspection, as Van de Geer described herself, “It’s a way to discover yourself, your impulses, and your instincts. It aims at opening people’s minds to themselves and others and encourages difference.”
Van de Geer despises a very “result-processed” approach of art. During the workshop, she quoted composer Erik Satie, “All great artists are amateurs.” An amateur is someone who does art or anything else simply for the love of it, which is what makes them so good at it, she explained.
We believe if more people attempted to understand the deeper meaning of art, or just allowed themselves to be vulnerable and speak without fear of judgement, amateurs like us would not have to question, “does art matter?” It does, plain and simple.
Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee