My first year at university I was required to take a year long “inquiry” class and I sheepishly chose The Work of Art. Our professor Joseph Long liked to be called Chip and led us in a year of discussions about “what is art?” It went something like this-
“the movie Rocky, is it Art?”
“uh, yeah I guess”
“cooking a meal, is it Art?”
“what about poop in a can- is it Art?”
After one year, I found out this class was gross sometimes and reinforced my skepticism of Art with a capital A (to it’s credit, my mentor was one of the most creative people I’ve met and his ideas still inspire me). A conversation from this class came back to me lately while I was elbows deep in discarded sticker bits and vinyl backing.
We were talking about how “the work of art” is a double entendre. What stuck with me was that detailing a repeating pattern, getting the right mix of colors, or- as I found myself during the limbo hours after breakfast and before work- weeding a million stickers can be a lot of work. But the work is satisfying. Hours sneak by and there’s a mental buzzing a friend of mine compared to figuring out a math problem.
My last class at university was Art and Social Practice. As it seems to happen, somehow my discussions came full circle. My professor said he doesn’t like to call things Art and trying to define what is and isn’t leads to a dead end. He liked to talk about ideas. There are good ideas, bad ideas, thoughtful ideas, personal, stupid, fascinating, crazy, exciting ideas.