On the Nature of Art/by Morgan Miller

What is art?

A simplistic question on the surface, but much more multifaceted upon closer inspection. It’s an inquiry you might hear in your art appreciation class, and the very thought brings to mind paintings of blinding color, sculptures of intricate shapes, and drawings that look real enough to touch.

Those things, indeed, are all art. You can take the question farther if you wish, choosing to include works of poetry, prose, film, and theater. Music might trickle into your mind. Dance may come soaring along. Yes, these things are art as well.

But could it be even more than that?

In times like the present, when work is stacked miles high and deadlines stand with their catapults at the ready, I tend to fixate on small things more than I normally would. Things I notice but often ignore become pinpoints of focus, such as the way sunlight filters through overhead trees and the shapes made by cracks in the sidewalk. I ultimately credit this fixation to procrastination, a way for my mind to think about things other than the insurmountable list of tasks that needs to be completed.

However, there’s a certain beauty to those mundane things, too.

I am a writer. Writers are taught to pay attention to the world around us, harvesting the details so that we might translate them into our own works of art in whatever shape they choose to take. But for us to turn those details into art, do those details not already hold a semblance of art themselves?

I think they do. I believe art goes beyond what first comes to mind at the mention of the word. I think the very term is limitless with its classification, and it can come to categorize whatever you might find profound on whatever day at whatever time. I believe all of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings are art, but I also believe the way the moon creates tiny blades of light across my room at night is art. Short stories from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Eudora Welty are undoubtedly art, but so is the brilliant shade of orange the sun takes on right before it dips below the horizon. 

There’s art in the laughter of friends. It exists on the wings of the robins that frequent the quad. Art is in the scattering of leaves in the fall, a cityscape alight at night, and the texture of an old quilt. It’s in the font of the letters you read right now.

It’s likely I’m being too liberal with the term and just need to get back to writing my many essays. But I also think there’s truth in it, too. The little things of life exist to remind us that things aren’t as giant and scary as they may seem. In the same vein, they also serve to show us the detail that has gone into the perfect planning of this world that is well beyond any human’s capacity to understand. 

Simply put, art is everywhere. Anything within your light of sight can be deemed as such. You just have to look closely.

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