I was recently at a meeting of arts practitioners and arts organization leaders in the City of Vancouver that opened with a conversation from members of the three First Nations upon whose land the city of Vancouver has been built.
During the course of the conversation which traveled through many topics, including reconciliation, redress, symbolism, language, and more, one of the members said, as an aside, “We don’t have a word for art…”
I’ve been thinking about that statement for a while. If art, isn’t art, what could it be? It could be another form of language. It could be another form of expression. It could be another form of teaching.
Whatever it is, one thing for sure: art in its fullest form is connected to everything that there is about being human. This idea that “art” carries stories, histories, cultural values, ways of life, and information beyond technique and aesthetics is common for those who have engaged in any kind of oral tradition. Such an understanding brings to light the true power of art to change the world, not just through consuming and understanding, but through the engendering of values, lived through the activity of art-making.
I wonder what would become of the world if we reminded ourselves of this power and put it to use for good?