May 2021 Issue 2

Why Do Artists Make Work and Why Do Others Want to Experience It? 

By Nancy Coleman

You won't want to miss May's exhibit, for sure, which runs through Saturday, May 29. Not only do we have 24 (!) artists showing, but it is a veritable feast for the senses. Upstairs and downstairs you'll find not just brilliantly executed color palettes and compositions in 2D works, but compelling 3D art of printed nylon sculpture, clay, wood, jewelry, fiber, glass, metal and more. Whoa. Why have we collected such a diverse community of creative souls? Indeed, why do artists make work and why do others want to experience it?  

There’s art and then there’s art. Let’s start with the artists’ point of view, and then we’ll examine what art means to those who “consume” it. You know, the lookers, admirers, the critics, the collectors, the amused and the bemused. You might fall into one of those categories. If you do, it might help to know how it feels to be an artist and why we make art. 

Of course every one has their own reasons. But from our research (and looking inward), many artists share many of the same feelings whether or not they can articulate them. What seems to be most common is that “art” to artists is not a product, it’s a process. It’s art-making, instead of an art piece.  

The process of making art becomes a world into itself, a space where the artist enters, consciously at first (walking into the studio, assembling the tools) and then while working unconsciously slips into a centered state-of-being. It’s a place where the artist feels most at home, most like herself or himself, and experiences a pureness of being imbued with exploration, discovery and wonder.  

As one artist summed up, when asked why he made art, “It feels good.” It seems that how that happens is because the artist is completely focused on the present, losing track of time, forgetting about past difficulties and no longer anticipating the scary uncertainties of the future. Instead, the artist becomes a channel for the Universe and, if they let go, uses the tools and technique they have practiced with, and gets out of the way...things can just flow.   

Non-artists, on the other hand, experience art as a product, or as an artwork, or piece of art.  What makes most of them want to experience it – going to galleries or museums, looking online, or visiting any number of other venues – is that so often art engages them in some way. It could be that the work inspires them to feel something, or engages their imagination. It could be artwork that makes them want to share their emotions or their amazement of the world with another person.  Or maybe to express how they feel about their place in the world through acquisition and display. It could even be a way to store financial resources, with the hope or expectation of extracting it later through reselling or donating the work. Just as there are so many kinds of art, there are so many reasons to want to experience it. It’s all good.  

That’s why we have collected such a diverse group of talented, hard-working, feeling-good artists. Artists and the public they share it with have a symbiotic relationship. Soon we will examine, in the Collective Visions Gallery Muse, what makes artists want to share their work. Look for it. But in the meantime, come to our gallery and see how you engage with the feast we have worked.