What’s worse, is that I’m beginning to suspect that this problem is symptomatic of an art education. Because we know about these movements, we want to play off their ideas, forgetting that other people don’t know about them. There was a time when art was current and relevant without requiring that the viewer be particularly well educated to understand it. This was because the art referenced contemporary subjects rather than historical or literary figures from a century before. Artists have become so wrapped up in their own conversation that they have stopped inviting laymen to engage in their dialog. We wonder about the shrinking market for artwork, but we’re the ones responsible for alienating the vast portion of the marketplace.
I see writers everyday that through their studies have lost their love of reading. Who admit that they can’t just pick up a book and get lost in the story anymore. I see artists who when they look at a piece of new art immediately begin analyzing it before they have a chance to experience and explore a human reaction to it. I posit that if we want our work to be relevant to the general population, we must first return to being a part of that population again. We must remember what first inspired us, what filled us with wonder when we were part of that huddled mass of unenlightened looking up at the products of the arts and gasping in awe at what we saw. We need to remember the visceral reaction we first experienced when viewing grand oil paintings, or reading Fantasy and Science fiction books. We need to remember the wonder of turning the pages to find out what happens next, and the experience of spending a month reading a good book because we don’t want it to be over.
We must remember, and we must produce work that is accessible at that level, then get it in front of as many eyes as possible. This is how we can inspire the world to pay attention to the arts again, not by shocking them but by inspiring them. We don’t need to confuse, confound, educate or indoctrinate them. We need to inspire them, fill them with wonder and amazement and make them want to educate themselves.