Friday, October 15, 2010

A Few Thoughts About Art

This is supposed to be an apolitical blog. That said, this post is going to tread dangerously close to that line.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Two weeks ago two rather stunning events occurred in my life. The first was that I received one of those anti-gay marriage DVDs Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt has been sending out to Catholic households. The second, was that the church I belong to, the Basilica of St. Mary, fired their Artist in Residence, Lucinda Naylor. She had held that position for 15 years. I don't know Lucinda personally, but having been a member of the Basilica of St. Mary for well over a decade, I'm intimately familiar with much of her religious artwork.

Now, if this blog wasn't apolitical, the rest of what you would see on this post would be one frakking shit storm of a rant about how much I disapprove of this whole thing. But it isn't, so we'll leave it at that.

Among the many topics these events have prompted me to dwell on over the last couple weeks, has been the nature of art and what it means to be an artist.

Art, as we all know, can come in many forms. To name but a few: music, film, literature, sculpture, etc. Within all of these categories, art can range from simple fun, like an Iron Man movie or a good pop song, to something that is deep, long-lasting, and thought-provoking.

Good art, in my opinion, challenges our preconceived notions of what is right, or just, or appropriate. The best art, does that in ways that are nonthreatening; ways that make us think about a topic without being unduly provocative.

Maybe I'm biased, but I think that fiction writers are as well tuned into that notion as anyone. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you can probably rattle off several stories (novels, novellas, TV scripts) that have surprised you with their content and stuck with you long after first reading or viewing them. If you're a writer, then you inherently know that a story cannot function without conflict and that your better stories are those that integrate that conflict into the social and/or societal issues that affect us every day.

Lucinda Naylor was fired because she wanted to take Archbishop John Nienstedt’s DVDs and form an artistic work protesting his actions. My understanding, is that her vision is to shape these DVDs into an image of the Holy Spirit moving through the church and effecting positive change.

That, my friends, is the very definition of the best art.

For more on Lucinda Naylor check out her Facebook page DVD to ART


Jon said...

Very nice.

Feel free to rant in the future, should the spirit move you.

Lisa said...

Nice blog, Shawn
I'd been planning on blogging next week about what art means too: great minds yadda yadda. Stay tuned for more.