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I remember once musing about what the definition of true art was. There are plenty of ways you can measure an artistic piece’s worth and nuances, such as technique, medium, message, delivery and the audience’s interpretation. Some say it takes years of refined skill and genius to produce something worthwhile in the arts. Some say all you need is a sudden burst of unbridled inspiration sprinkled in with raw talent and potential. However, I think what most greatly needs to be noted is that the creative world — in which people try to define “creative, artistic legends” — is what we call “the arts.” The word is plural.
If art was truly measured by one set of guidelines, I think it would be irrelevant in society. It would not be a medium of true self-expression or creativity. There would be no potential to push past barriers and branch out other crafts from one set form, since restrictions would hinder any growth in “the arts.” The English word for “art” originates from the Latin word “ars,” meaning skill or craft. However, crafts are developed because there is a need for them in different regions of society. Styles and techniques are perfected because generations of time have bred new manners of creation, while some prefer to stick to the old ways. But even these kinds of crafts can fit into the arts.
In a world where there was truly only one right way to do everything, there would only be one kind of person. The world of “the arts” is plural for a reason. It is because different races, genders and breeds of intellect collectively or individually sit down and think, “What is the best way I can articulate this message I wish to share with the world?”
Some sat down and visually reproduced the vision in their heads. Some devised symbols that could be replicated in order to explain the stories embedded within pictures when the pictures alone would not suffice. Some opened their mouths and wailed these words in melodic harmony, hoping to synch the emotion within them that may not have been expressed otherwise. Some sat down and devised rhythms to accompany these manmade melodies with any medium possible, since the rhythm of nature has existed all along, and man is a creature of mimicry and inspiration. Some felt the rhythms and melodies and moved their bodies in sync as well, each movement of footwork a different interpretation of the words or emotions that had perhaps come from a single vision.
Each method used to create and decipher a message is unique. It embodies meaning to the individuals who devised it. It helps to create ways of life worlds apart from the last and from the next. It created culture. The creativity in message proclaimed unique expression, difference, diversity.
Diversity is art. Art is diversity. You cannot proclaim a symphony birthed from European composition any more brilliant than a gathering of Moroccan drum beats pounding away in celebration. You cannot compare the Sistine Chapel ceiling to the hieroglyphics on the tomb of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. You cannot say you know the true message of art, the artist or the message itself, because there is no truth but the expression of the art itself. There is only its interpretation, its realization, by its vast pool of creators who all try to mimic and reproduce the visions in their own heads, somehow hoping someone else might be able to glimpse the message.