watching, reading, and writing stories

Art and Asking Questions

on October 8, 2013

Exhibition, Art Gallery, Gallery, Arts, Art, Painting

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Recently I went to an art museum with a friend and as we were walking around, looking at the exhibits, my friend asked “Why is this considered art?” I’ve been out of college for over a year now and my brain sought frantically for some explanation from my professors about modern art’s purpose. I mumbled something about art being made by an artist because it was important to them in some way, and explained that maybe the artist was exploring something, but that an audience might not understand all of why they did it.

Anyway, fast forward a few weeks and I came across this You Tube video.

After watching the video I thought back to that conversation with my friend. While I don’t think art’s purpose is to make people better at noticing little details for their careers, I do think it has something to do with asking questions.

It could be that the artist is asking questions, and exploring answers through their work. But whatever the artist’s purpose, it seems like the viewers of art always ask questions. And that isn’t limited to the art you see in a museum. People ask what the author meant when he or she wrote such and such. And we usually have to come up with an answer for ourselves for why things are the way they are. Even children ask questions; from a young age they start to ask the “why” question about almost everything. And in some ways it’s not the answer that’s important, it’s the curiosity.

It’s easy to go through life oblivious to what’s around you, just going through the motions, doing what you’ve always done. Once you “grow up” and leave school, it feels like you should know everything now, you’re an adult. But even adults still need to ask questions.
So maybe that’s part of what art does, it reminds us that we don’t have everything figured out, we don’t understand everything, but we can still learn and explore and ask questions.

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I guess the reason this has been rolling around in my head is because of something going on in my home town right now. A large group of churches has joined together to start exploring several big questions. Here’s a link to the page if you’re interested:

For the past several weeks I’ve been talking about deep questions like “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” or “Is there a purpose to life?” And the goal behind these questions isn’t so much to give a definite answer, but to start discussion. It’s kind of like the artwork in a museum. It doesn’t say why the artist made it on the little description but it starts a discussion. It makes us start asking more questions, start exploring, and maybe start learning something in the process.


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