What is Art?


Therefore: art lifts us to God in whose presence we dance.


Art is not the process. It is the product. Art is not the idea. It is the made. Art is not perceived by the senses; it is known.


For me, art has to be beautiful and, to be beautiful it must spring from love. That would be how Kathe Kollwitz’ sad drawings of the ugliness of poverty would qualify as art. Her mojo was love. Ingres work is beautiful, but so is the work of Thomas Kincaid. The difference is truth.


Ingres is a popular artist. His work is beautiful, but the beauty is more than skin deep. He is reverent about the whole truth. Therefore his work is alive with possibilities. In the world of Kincaid, nothing is going to change, because all conflicting influences have been eliminated. Utopias are worlds without options.

Art takes us beyond perception. That is why quality work is not necessarily art. On the other hand, art can be the product of unskilled hands. Truth shines through, in works at the American Visionary Museum.


Often the drivers of art are ambition, desire for fame or money; and if the artist puts these before love, then art is not created. As long as the artist allows love to move the instrument of art making, then art will be produced.

Art is the true self. Everyone creates, but not always with love. The artist wades through muddy wetlands to higher ground, where all is distilled into clarity of oneness. And still, art is not necessarily produced.

Sometimes the artist can’t climb high enough, or the precious truths packed out via treacherous paths are lost or damaged before they arrive in Baltimore.

Love is forever. If someone dies or divorces, the love still exists. (Other feelings may also exist.) Since art is love, art is forever. That is why we can appreciate the cave paintings of Lascaux. That is how art lifts us to God.


Even though God is embedded in this reality, God is not of this reality, nor changed by this reality. God doesn’t perceive; God knows. Perception is not reality. In its introduction, The Course in Miracles describes its teaching this way:

“Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists
Herein lies the peace of God.”

How can this be, unless life and death are an illusion?


Shakespeare says, “All the world’s a stage. Men and women make their entrances and exits.”  I believe that’s a good description of the reality we create of our lives with our senses. Just as an actor “believes” he is the hero or the bad guy, so too, we believe our reality as we play out our ideas of who we are. It is no fun when one of the actors says, in the middle of an act, “ I’m bored, I am going home.” But it does happen. (Home, of course, is Heaven, where nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists.) Mostly, we are all of us caught up in the feeling of the play and, when one of our number refuses to play, it’s a shock; but the show must go on, right?

Usually, the play goes on as scripted, but sometimes actors (Michelangelo, Giotto and Courbet, for example) stop and rewrite the act. Then the fun begins. Now, we are free to imagine a new ending. All is possible; anything can happen. There are no limits. The reality we script is changed. The fun begins again.

“Art is a matter of opinion,” is how my coworker, Mr. Minter, answered, when asked, “What is Art?” I couldn’t argue. Art like reality is a matter of opinion.

One Comment

  • doris says:

    Utopias are where all options lead to positive happenings. There is no bad choice. All choices work out well for the one choosing. That’s utopia not a lack of options.

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