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The Artist Within

Aug 06, 2015 09:30AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

Art

By Lewi Lewis 

Let’s face it, whatever you think art means, you are wrong … and right. 

Art. 

It’s meaning is something of a specter that has spanned the measure of recorded history and beyond. It’s a word with heavy implications that have spawned discussion and debate as much as the contretemps of the existence of god.

On a whim, in June, I decided to swing by the Olympus High art show, a showcase of student talent and emotion.

Whether I am in the M.O.M.A (Museum of Modern Art), the Louvre or a gallery created by high school students, I am a perfunctory mechanism, robotically moving through the aisles, glancing here and there with an unaccepting eye. 

But invariably, there is that moment. That moment where your legs stop on their own accord, and almost without being conscious of it, you find yourself, whether for better or worse, in a twirling abyss of thought and emotion. 

Among the art pieces I viewed at Olympus High, the work of Marie Litton, a 16-year-old student, pulled at the tails of my coat, as it were. I am still not entirely sure why I settled on her, or her art on me, but am also not sure that it matters. 

Below is a Q&A with Marie that took place at 3 Cups coffee shop in Holladay City. We sat down and almost immediately got to what was on both our minds. 

City Journals: Art … tell me about.

Marie Litton: Art is visually expressive of something that isn’t fully visual: feelings … emotion. Art is anything you want it to be. 

CJ: Aristotle said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Do you agree?

ML:  Yes, I do. When you’re painting … say you are painting a cup. The thing about art is that you don’t have to paint the cup as it looks or how you have been told a cup is suppose to look, you paint it how you see it right then and there. You paint your interpretation of the cup. 

CJ: Is art an intellectual activity?

ML: It can be … 

CJ: But … ?

ML: I think it is mostly not, though …  it’s almost a primitive activity. 

CJ: Where does the drive to create come from?

ML: A nature desire to connect with other human beings. To have something meaningful in this short life with others.

CJ:  I am walking through a gallery, bypassing much of the art; I suddenly stop because I am fully taken in by a piece, or a certain artist. Maybe it isn’t the best work, yet I am moved. What creates that connection to two otherwise unconnected individuals, the artist and the viewer?

ML: What connects the artist and viewer is when the viewer can feel and relate to the emotion that the artist was trying to radiate through their painting.

CJ: Does the artist actually try to do this, or is it an innate desire to create that which is unseen?

ML: It’s more of an innate desire … Art is this strange thing. It’s a conduit for feelings and emotion: they reflect, come through naturally. Certain shapes and colors trigger things in the mind and make you feel a certain way.

CJ: Does art actually matter, or is the importance of art an arbitrary matter? You can’t quantify art, can you?

ML: No, you can’t, but it absolutely matters. But it is so objective that any definitive conclusion is impossible. The meaning and importance of art is talked about so much because every artist, and viewer, experiences it differently. It’s so personal. For one person something could mean the world, and to another, that same thing could be dust. The importance of art lies in personal connection. Like I said, on a very primitive level. 

CJ: Tell me about your piece “Freedom Is A State Of Mind?”

ML: It’s base off of mental disorders that can limit you in life. I have struggled with depression and anxiety myself. It has layers, distortions. It shows, for me, the parts we show the world, and parts that we don’t. 

CJ: Favorite Artist?

ML: Bill Steidel 

CJ: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. Do you mind leaving me with one of your favorite quotes?

ML: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” [Cesar A. Cruz, reportedly]  

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