What is Art?

I have been thinking so much on art lately.  Ever since reading Emily Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways.  I have been mulling over what the purpose is in art, in beauty, in good food, in laughter, in good movies or piercing music.  In cleanliness, in order.  Does art matter?  Does it have a purpose or is it an unnecessary trivia in this world rife with pain and turmoil?  People are suffering–does art matter?


Today these words from Francis Schaeffer’s wife, Edith:

“What is Art?  Authorities do not agree.  Definitions differ.  Who draws the line that separates
Art from Design?
Sculpture from Ornaments?
Poetry from Jingles?
Great Music from Pooh’s Hums?
Great Literature from Daily News?

Is Art beauty, or depth of expression?
Is Art communication calling for response?
Is Art talent for involving other human beings in what otherwise would remain locked in the mind?
Is Art something that draws many others into the beauty, joy, and vividness of another person’s understanding?
Is Art something that includes others in the torn struggling of another person’s suffering?

Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality.  Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared.  One individual personality has definite or special talent for expressing, in some medium, what other personalities can hear, see, smell, feel, taste, understand, enjoy, be stimulated by, be involved in, find refreshment in, find satisfaction in, find fulfillment in, experience reality in, be agonized by, be pleased by, enter into, but which they could not produce themselves.

Art in various forms expresses and gives opportunity to others to share in, and respond to, things which would otherwise remain vague, empty yearnings.  Art satisfies and fulfills something in the person creating and in those responding.

One area of art inspires another area of art, but also one person’s expression of art stimulates another person and brings about growth in understanding, sensitivity, and appreciation.  One active artist gives courage and incentive, and germinates ideas in others for producing more art.  Hence a very poor, humble or unknown artist might easily provide the spark which kindles the fire of a great artist.  But however good or great, his art is never perfect.

The only artist who is perfect in all forms of creativity–in technique, in originality, in knowledge of the past and future, in versatility, in having perfect content to express as well as perfect expression of content, in having perfect truth to express as well as perfect expression of truth, in communicating perfectly the wonders of all the exists as well as something about Himself, is of course God–the God who is Personal.

God, the Artist!”

-Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

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