Thoughtful Thursday ~ What Makes it Art?

Emerging Hydrangea Leaf

“Emerging Hydrangea Leaf”

Closeup or an emerging leaf on our hydrangea bush.


Yesterday I mentioned that I couldn’t recreate my photo “Forest Fire” again if my life depended on it. In my post “Thoughtful Thursday ~ Art is Serendipitous” I said creating art should not be a consistent and predictable process, that it should come from the heart. So the question is, What makes art, art?

I struggle with this question because I don’t believe as photographers we should have to defend our work as art. It’s not as if I’m making something up from thin air and painting it on a canvas. I’m not chipping away at a block of marble and deciding as I go how perfect to make a human form. I’m not even putting a bunch of, what others might call trash, together in some “meaningful” way. I’m starting out with something that actually exists, right there in front of my camera lens. The fact that my brush, chisel, welding torch or nail gun aren’t the tools I use to create my artwork does not make it any less a work of art. Just because I choose to use a digital paint brush and manipulate light to bend to my will, I shouldn’t have to defend my tools any more than any other artist.

Time for another quick etymology lesson:

  • art (n.)
    • early 13c., “skill as a result of learning or practice,” from Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative ars) “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft,”

    The old saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” cannot be more true than when anyone looks at any work of art. Not everyone will like it. So what. I like it. It took creativity and skill to create it. This is what makes art, art.

    ~ Daniel Kmiecik

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