A number of years ago, a coworker commissioned me to create a sculpture for his home. He wanted abstract that hinted at organic. So I welded him a sculpture that resembled an iron ocotillo in bloom. When it was finished, I brought it to him at work. The reaction not only from the coworker who’d commissioned the work, but also my other coworkers, was favorable.
One of my coworkers shook his head and said, “That’s not art.” He then went to his cubicle, grabbed a coffee mug and set it in front of the sculpture. “The mug is art.”
Art, he said, must have function. You must be able to use it for some purpose.
Thus ensued a discussion among the cubicles of what is art, why we have art, what purpose art serves.
My coworker’s reaction and the subsequent discussion has rattled around in my brain ever since. I often wonder why creatives create and what purpose their creations serve. Or if they need to at all.
Some of the artwork I’ve created, and plan to create, have functionality. Furniture. Clothing. Jewelry. But a lot of what I create is simply visual work. Stained glass windows. Paintings. Sculpture.
I’ve never stopped to ask whether or not what I’m creating should have a function. I’ve simply taken what imaginations I’ve had and tried to make them real.
I’m curious what you think. I’d like to hear your opinions about art and how you philosophize it.
What is art?
What purpose does art serve?
Does art need to be functional?