We, as humans, think about art a lot. Whether conscious or unconscious, art is always surrounding us somehow in our lives. Art is on the walls, on the radio, the films we watch, even the clothing that we wear. As a theatre major and musician, art is a big part of my life. A few days ago I sat in class and my professor asked us to write down what we thought the function of an artist was. And if we could answer that, to then ask, what is the function of art?
So naturally, upon being given this question, I sat and I thought about it for a few minutes before we moved on with the class discussion. The question then stuck with me for the rest of the day. What is the function of an artist? Is it to, first and foremost, create? To inspire? To entertain?
Suppose we say that simply put, the function of an artist is to create something - whether that something be a medium that is present in the world for centuries, or something completely ephemeral, whose initial impression lasts for only a few seconds or minutes, and then disappears. If something so fleeting and coveted is art, what then, upon its disappearance, is it's purpose?
If the purpose of the artist is to create, then the purpose of art we could say, is to inspire. Inspire emotional reaction, inner reflection, and maybe outward change. Take music, for example - music has inspired movements that maybe would have never come about so strongly without the widespread recorded song. Think hip-hop, rock and roll, folk, rap - these genres inspire and critique and criticize our every day lives. John Lennon once said in an interview that, "Some people will do anything rather than be here now." Art forces us to be present, to be in the moment, and to be immediately affected by the moment. So perhaps that is the purpose of art - to bring us to the present moment.
It's a worthwhile question to ask, I believe. What's your purpose as an artist?