“Art is noble through being useless.” So said cultural historian Jacque Barzun, in a series of lectures delivered at the National Gallery in Washington (later reprinted as “The Use and Abuse of Art“). Which begs the question, does its inversion also hold true: Art is useless through being noble.”
I spent about 10 years after graduate school painting and being Mr. Mom while my wife toiled away as an attorney. Being immersed in so much domesticity naturally shaped my creative output. My art during this period was largely concerned with domestic life in all its manifestations, including being a caregiver to my two sons.
It was the best job I ever had in my life.
Later we switched roles and I went back to work full time doing web-related design and IT work. Finding time to paint became an ongoing struggle but I still manage to make art, although at times it’s felt a little episodic. Of late, I’ve found myself working more and more in the studio, and it feels good.
Art is ultimately about language: how we communicate, not just what we communicate. It’s what makes a grocery list different from a poem.
We each engage in a dialog with a piece of art when we encounter it. Your conversation is hopefully different from mine. I see my work as being like loose pages out of a book where the viewer finishes the story. I don’t have a set way I want the story to be completed — in fact if it has only one ending it hardly seems worth looking at a second time.
Finally, making art is how you find out what really matters to you. Until you are emotionally engaged in your subject, you’ll never create anything important. because if it isn’t important to you, it will never be important to anyone else.