Is Artistic Expression A Noun Or A Verb?
Artistic expression clinically is defined by the conscious use of ones creativity in a composition of a work. Yet this would make the philosophy a noun. It becomes an object that is created.
Phd Ellen Langer would disagree with this assessment. Studies within psychology have found that there is a clear difference in being artistic and then a state of being through expression.
In her studies, her team once asked a symphony to play a piece how they thought others wanted to hear it. In contrast, they then asked this same symphony to then play the piece with the subtle expressions the musician wished to project through the work.
What they discovered was that when the musician was allowed to express themselves through the piece the music transformed coming to life. While the same music, it was an altogether different feeling within the composition.
Artistic expression is more than a noun. While it can be an object it is also the very act of expression.
What an artist places into a work through that emotion, thought, mindful application, reflects on the world around it. It is the essence of artistic meaning.
Expression As A Verb
Expression is something that we all live. When we are angry, sad, happy, or laughing we express these emotions. Perhaps this industrial and technical age has removed some of our ability to understand expression. Yet there was a time when ones work was built around the character of ones life.
As an artist we are not to approach our work as an object to be produced or made. Artwork of any kind is more than a craft. It is to carry a piece of who we are within it.
It is the very expression of our emotions and creativity.
Artistic expression is something one lives day by day and portrayed through symbolism in art. It is a process which we apply to the things we touch. It is a constant state of being. An artists greatest growth takes place within this state of mind.
Personal and professional growth flourishes in this state for it requires fuel to drive the creative mind. We seek new opportunities, inspiration, and alternative ways to create.
This is what pushes an artist to become their best. It is a continual challenge we live, and even I experience as a wood artist.
Ignore The Self Conscious Voice
The greatest accomplishments within life we may never experience because we are too self conscious to allow them to happen. We worry about what others may say or think. Immediately we tend to assume the worst.
There is a clear difference between accepting constructive criticism and being too self conscious in art and life. It is necessary for an artist to be free from ourselves.
We are our greatest enemy in holding back our work from becoming what it could be.
If we could create without fear of what others may think or how they could react it would forever change our lives. This is something which we must learn and practice. We must allow ourselves to express through our work to reflect who we are.
We Express For Others Or Ourselves
Ultimately within an artists work we will always either express for others or ourselves. Much like what was found within Dr Langer’s work when we compose for others we cannot reach our full potential.
Art content within all its forms must first be for the artist.
While others may enjoy and find pleasure through our artwork in all its shapes and forms, it is personal to us. It does not matter if it is music which one plays that another artist wrote. Our personal influence alters its notes and inflection.
The personality and feeling we add to our work becomes a mark that gives impact to a composition. This element should be a part of the greater unity in art that is projected.
Ten artists could play the same song with ten different results. Each artist carries within themselves the ability to make any work personal to their life.
Clinically: Artistic Expression Is A Philosophy Within Art
We could turn the pages to the thoughts of those like Tolstoy. While his thoughts and writing on art is not inaccurate, it can be difficult to take his philosophy for personal creation.
It becomes more for community. Humans have a way of placing things categorically within its own box where that something belongs.
Benedetto Croce perhaps more closely captured the truth in his attempt at defining artistic expression. He states that art is not a physical thing and there is more to painting than pigments on a canvas. The art which is created cannot embody or be identified within its physical form.
Yet this presents a problem especially for academic minds who seek to classify and teach all things. If art cannot be truly captured within a physical form then its source is within the artist.
How then can it be classified?
Croce stated that physical creations in their representation are symbols. This symbol represents the real art of expression and feelings. In this way artistic expression is truly a verb. It is something which the artist is and lives, then expresses by their hands.
Robin Collingwood shares greater sympathies with Tolstoy’s philosophies than he does Croce. He stated that an artist does not create on his personal behalf but for that of his community out of public labor. So who is right?
There are times when art will capture a community, a movement, even a counter culture. Then there are times when art is very personal, emotional, and deep from the heart. Yet if any philosophy were to be counted the most accurate I would credit Croce.
Why Is Croce Accurate In Philosophy?
If art merely represented its imagery for a community it could not capture the personal experience. In this way it becomes more of a picture in time rather than a vehicle to communicate. In essence its ability to be expressive becomes lost.
Artistic expression is what these men were attempting to classify philosophically. The very definitions given by Tolstoy and Collingwood at this point become antithetical. Despite this there are times when their philosophies are applicable and not in error.
There are great works which focus on community and culture. Archeology at times has only had this community art by which to know and understand a civilization. It can indeed provide a picture of a people and is part of its purpose.
Nevertheless while it holds this capacity it is not its philosophy. There could be no art to capture the human experience if there first was not an artist that did not have personal artistic expression.
The personal experience must come before the community picture.
Why Is Expression Impossible To Classify?
Too often academics attempt to mix philosophy and purpose. Art is too flexible to be approached from a clinical mindset such as mathematics or engineering.
This can be seen due to the diverse definitions and approaches which have been made through history to classify art. I believe the very study of Art Appreciation proves this point.
All one must do to see this academic example is look to Hellenistic Art. Here a classical art covers a significant period of time. Added to this is the diversity which it brings, and at times art being classified into the period where it does not fit.
The very philosophy of art and purpose in art can be two different things. A philosophy can be very personal while its purpose still serves a greater role within a community and culture.
A personal expression while to the individual still can relate to its people in a broader society in how they lived.
While art by purpose is to capture a culture and its society, it has within it many shades and tones from many artists. You can say that its purpose is a mosaic. Yet its philosophy is the individual image within the mosaic.
While they do work in conjunction with each other they are different. Artistic Expression is the reason why they will never be the same. This expression cannot serve the purpose of many when it is often a personal reflection of an individual.
This is a symbiotic existence nonetheless, and a relationship exists between the concepts. Ultimately the artist is free to express, and we should express freely in creating art.
Dangers Of Suffocating Expression
There have been periods of history when a society has suffocated the freedom of artistic expression. Within these cultures the powers which existed suppressed the artist to prevent a narrative which contradicted their view.
We call those who project this philosophy tyrants.
It is further for this reason why art cannot be of a collective mind. If it were, then the art which would remain would not be true in representation to its people. Rather the artist would be required to present a lie to the collective narrative.
Any attempt to frame artistic expression as being purely communal in nature is in danger to this loss of freedom. If our purpose is to capture the image of our culture it must do so individually.
A statue of a nations “great leader” on every town square only speaks to the narcissist and arrogant minds.
Hidden out of sight is the pain and suffering of the common man under such societies. Artists must always remain free, and if need be in defiance to those powers who would trap them.
The truth of a culture must always be told from that individual perspective.
Do Not Become A Noun
As the artists reads the words on this page it can suddenly become clear why they should never become a noun. You are not your creation.
Artistic expression is something which must be lived. To become the noun is to fail at the very purpose of being an artist. Life itself is a verb. It must be lived. So must the art you create.
For the art student it is important to learn from your professors and academics. Yet know up front their classifications will ultimately fail.
Attempting to define and create a true philosophy in art is like attempting to do the same to life. Apply the Art Theory within your best philosophical view.
Art is too colorful, too big, and broad to be any other way. Art itself is an experience not a formula. Your art portfolio should be an experience, not a list of products.
What you will be given by these institutional thinkers is essential in understanding. It is like being given a blank canvas. Ultimately though it is your responsibility to fill it with color.
Undue Pressures Artists Face
Of the most difficult things which an artist may face is the pressure to create art. There is a strain which takes hold over time and it begins to wear down that artist. A writer will face what is called writers block.
A composer begins to almost become tone deaf in that all notes begin to sound the same. A painter will begin to see all images too alike and lifeless.
In these moments we run the risk of focusing more on creating art by design rather than expression.
It becomes important to continue fueling the reservoir of inspiration. We must take the time away from our work to reflect on those emotions and moments which give us meaning.
At times it requires us to take a break from where we are.
These moments can cause anxiety for some. Fear creeps in for there are real needs in life which must be met. Deadlines and expectations do not understand creativity nor art.
It is a confluence of two worlds meeting that causes this frustration.
Just as we hope that our work is to serve as an inspiration do others daily, we too should seek our own inspiration in the same way. We should daily seek to refuel. It is a constant pursuit. It is a part of living the verb of artistic expression.
Expression Is One Emotion At A Time
To do our best work we cannot express to our desired goal while also feeling fear, pressure, or anxiety. It is imperative to maintain balance within life.
Do not take on more than one can realistically achieve.
Grow with time and while aspiring for more remember your state of being is important.
While any artist will often be their own worst critic, to that end we also cannot become self destructive.
If you find yourself in this place return to the idea of removing the self conscious mind. Here constructive criticism may aid in direction.
While on your path never remove yourself from the reservoir of inspiration.
Maintain it at all costs.