People have been making art for centuries. We are the only species that creates something purely for aesthetic value. As beautiful as the bower bird’s boudoir may be – its function is purely sexual. And whilst throughout the centuries art has been and continues to be used as currency, trade goods, allegory, decoration, status symbol, advertisement, memento and even sexual suggestion, its primary function remains purely aesthetic.
Whilst I am in no way undervaluing the importance of aesthetics in our lives (we all love a beautiful piece of furniture, fashion, fine wine, music etc), but in today’s fractured, full-of-despair yet -full-of-hope society, I feel that art has a much deeper role to play in promoting awareness of some very important issues; from migration to climate change and conservation. These are three themes that recur continuously in my works, because, from my point of view, through my paintings I can not only educate others, but myself.
What other medium can travel through the vacuum of social media, language, culture, age and values better than a visual statement? Art can break political barriers, language barriers; art can reach children where words may not. We need to see, to feel something in order to believe it.
We can’t all stand and watch the glacier cracking just a few feet from us.
Justin Fenech, a Maltese author, uses literature to explore and engage with the world; and no clearer is this than in his novel The Last Adolescence, in which the protagonist ditches his hedonistic, selfish lifestyle to discover an untouched world where he contemplates his own future and the future of the planet as a whole.
We don’t even have to wait until we’re all grown up; the reality of a changing world is already upon us. Just ask Bria Neff; she’s only nine years old but already a passionate conservationist and stunning young artist. Her carefully constructed paintings are honest and full of love and hope, and have been helping to raise money for conservation, and she’s already raised over $1,600 . Please show your support and admiration on her Facebook page.
It’s not just painting that can work as a powerful visual medium for transporting ideas across the world, I’ve seen countless talented and inspiring individuals using literature, music, even dance and performance arts, as a way of reaching out, grabbing us by our brains and telling us: this is happening.
Simon Kerr uses the power of music to provide listeners with a whole new understanding of climate change, at a concious, engaging level. His music speaks of freedom and empowerment, and is an innovative way to express a topic which can, at times, be to fact-ridden and statistics heavy for us to want to engage with. Find out more: https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2016/07/18/music-and-hope-in-a-warming-world/
Art is not about placing blame, or guilt, but about opening our eyes wide, letting the subject wash over us, and giving us no other choice but to want to know more.
But for me, the most fundamental aspect of art is bringing far-flung societies, peoples and minds together. To inspire positivity. Humanity is its own worst enemy, but we also have the power to do truly wonderful things.