In my very favorite book arts store in Minneapolis, I came across a sweet little accordion book entitled Reasons for Art.  Regula Russelle letterpress-printed it and created the book, which was inspired by artist Mary Frank’s list of personal reasons for art, to which Regula added her own. Here is the compilation, the first three being Mary Frank’s. The comments following each are my own.

Reasons for Art:

  • To AWAKE the LIVING – Isn’t this why we visit art galleries, museums, public places – to be changed, to be woken up, to see a new perspective? We make art to wake ourselves up and to find out what is inside that needs to be brought out into the light.
  • To COMFORT the DEAD – (I’m not quite sure how to respond to this one….. anyone?)
  • To KNOW MIGRATIONS of SEASONS, of BIRDS, of FISH – Think of how often  the natural world becomes muse to one’s creative endeavors.  Many of us acutely feel the natural world’s rhythms. The changes of the seasons, the wildlife, the woods and oceans, all can cause a sensitive soul to respond with her personal creative language. 
  • To LAUGH, to LOVE - Laughing and loving are two of the best ways to feel the life-force within oneself and let it bubble up and out. Some of us laugh with paint, others love with words. There are so many ways to express the joy we feel.
  • To LAMENT – Art is a place to go, a way to express the grief, terror, sadness of the times that try our souls. Solace can come from within as the darkness is made visible.
  • To INVITE REFLECTION – When one expresses her inner self visibly, her heart has been unzipped, opened, and examined. Others able to participate in this expression also have the opportunity to go on a similar journey, opening a heart as well.
  • To INSPIRE ACTION – Movements have theme songs, poetry, symbols, all of which propel the activity forward. Art can sell a cause, create sustenance for it, and bring visitors to an event. Sometimes it is a personal journey of action, a one-person path.
  • To HONOR the EARTH – I think of all the Native art that has paid homage to the beauty of this earth. A Navajo rug in earth’s dusty colors, an Inuit soapstone carving of a polar bear, a decorated clay pot made to beautify the daily tasks -- all bring beauty to life’s routines.
  • To cultivate BEAUTY, GRATITUDE, JOY – Creating what is beautiful, maintaining gratitude for the graces of one’s life, and finding joy in the daily moments of existence all help us fashion a positive outlook, a purposeful reason for existence, and a joyful state of being.
  • To knit an EXPANDING WEB of COMMUNITY – This speaks directly of WiVLA, doesn’t it? We learn from each other, celebrate successes together, exhibit and read together. The buyers, enjoyers, appreciators of our work join our community and become part of our extended family. 
  • To GIVE VOICE – Many times art and creativity are the best way of expressing deeply felt yearnings or pain. Sometimes everyday language just isn’t enough; a poem is needed to clarify and distill the emotion into a special form. Some people express through color, some through gesture, others through song. Creativity gives us a voice.
  • To TOUCH – Sometimes it is a gentle nudge on the arm, from that painting over there on the gallery wall. Other times it is a grab of the front of the shirt and a shake, the response is so visceral. Art is here to wake us up, open us to deeper reflection, and let us feel different than we were when we walked into the room.
  • To CONNECT – We come together, artists, appreciators; writers, listeners; dancers, viewers; singers, listeners. We are all part of a creative community, and we all learn and grow from each other’s courage. Through our togetherness, we make life beautiful, we grow together, we safeguard what is precious, and we make this world a better place.
Are you ready for art? Take a deep breath and open the door…. You will be changed, you will feel, you will wake up!  Please feel free to add to this list of Reasons for Art. I would like to put your ideas on this list with the others.

Cori Austin

"An ekphrastic poem is like a jolt of electricity surging through a work of art."
- Patricia Smith, ARTLines2

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!