Talking About Art

I understand the reasoning, but I'm still curious why and when people have trouble using the word "art" and "artist." The subject came up again recently when I read this statement by Danish artist Bodil Gardner in the latest SAQA Journal, "Whether it's art or not—that doesn't worry me." But why should it? She continues, "I make them for my own sake, hoping of course that you will like them and that they may give you courage to exploit your own creativity" (2017, No. 4, p. 6). Ultimately, that is what art is all about. As I wrote in a previous post, to paraphrase Patti Smith, art is a call to action. It doesn't necessarily work for everyone, but it might spark something in at least one other person. And that is what I think Bodil Gardner is really saying. I interpret the two statements to mean that she has hopes that her work will do this, but she is not worried if it doesn't. Fair enough.

In a film about him, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. says he is not an artist, that he is a printer. But I have also heard him use the term artist when referring to himself. Rik Olson also doesn't like the term "artist;" he infers that he finds it pretentious. I know other people who feel this way as well. They don't want to be called artists for fear they are putting on airs. (Does anyone use that phrase anymore?)

A baker bakes. A writer writes. A dancer dances. And so forth. Okay, so an artist doesn't art. But a jeweler doesn't jewel, either. In another previous post I wrote about calling ourselves makers. Or there is another way. A young woman I know solved the problem by making the word art just another noun; "Look, I made an art."