Volume 5, Number 1 March 2014


What is Art? By definition, art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

We have all heard the terms, ‘art for art’s sake’ used to convey the idea that the chief or only aim of a work of art is the self-expression of the individual artist who creates it. The proverb ‘art is long, life is short’ suggests there is so much knowledge to acquire that a lifetime is not sufficient. Fine art refers to a skill used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the finer things, such as the artist’s intent, or message he/she wishes to convey. Fine art also suggests several other things: a study of creative skill; a product of the creative skill; or the audiences experience with the creative skill. Is the artist compelled by a personal drive, as an activity, to convey a message, mood, or as a symbol for the viewer to interpret as a personal experience? Art should stimulate an individual’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses, visually or tactility. Should the work be provocative, conciliatory, or urbane?

Art has constraints and limitations for each particular medium called formal qualities. Paintings’ formal qualities are the canvas or surface texture, color, and brush or appliance for which the substance is applied to the substrate. Sculpture, on the other hand, must exist in space in three dimensions and respond to gravity.

‘Respond to Gravity, and Engage the Audience’ are issues as a sculptor I must address. Artist Tom Shannon’s magnetically levitated works, as well as other artists like Gerry Judah who explore these aspects of sculpture are in my opinion pushing the boundaries of established formal qualities. I feel it is more interesting if a piece of sculpture embodies the attributes of trompe l’oeil when viewed by the audience. I feel that it engages the viewer even more and begs the question, ‘what was the artist thinking’. It makes the viewer THINK.

My interest, passion, and preference is to explore all aspects of gravity and its relationship to the medium of sculpture. This passion is fraught with personnel demands of creativity while at the same time must adhere to the limitations of the materials themselves. I am obsessed with the notion that the perception of the limitations of these materials can and should be bent, distorted, and re-arranged in such a way that the mind is initially unable to grasp the content and relationship of all the pieces in the work. Only upon closer examination of the work, with all its features, will the viewer be able to grasp the artist’s intent. I do believe, however, no one can fully understand all of the innuendoes, nuances and subtleties of the artist’s work. That, I feel, is what makes art art; besides, is it not the artist’s right to

‘hold something back’ as it were? It also provides the artist a starting point, a venue, from which he /she could and should continue to explore.

Now we come to the most important point of this column: continue to explore. I feel it is inherent that this aspect of continuous exploration of one’s ideas and talents is demanded, or should be, for every artist. If it is ingrained, it is deeply wrought into his/her substance or character. Continuous exploration should be a permanent part of a person’s nature or essence. In summation, then I say: never give up, continue searching and exploring and NEVER think you are the best, BUT always try to be the best.

Dennis Hoyt