“The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
In human behavior and communication, one of the most interesting, compelling, and mind provoking narrations comes through and from the creation of art. This stylistic interpretation of human nature tackles various issues including the:
These and all other factions of culture are explored, expressed, and exploited through the various creative forms. Art and the mind have a unique relationship where ordinary thoughts and conversations, in comparison, don’t always translate well in. These concrete-to-the-abstract reflections reveal complex chasms of the human imagination, genius, and collective consciousness in eccentric and innovative ways.
In a sense, it is a special club that many, through inability, disinterest, or untapped talent, cannot actively participate in the making of. But all can ingest art; whether fully or just enough to spit it out. In any case, it is a powerful component of our experiences. Whether we choose it or are force-fed, art has an effect on our minds, souls, and overall being.
Expresses the Abstract
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” – George Bernard Shaw
It is said that all great inventions first manifest themselves in the mind before they make it into physical form. In the creation of a bridge, for example, it first has to be envisioned, planned in blueprint, then built. After the finished model, people are free to roam about and use the structure. Though in a lot cases we cannot “walk on art,” its creation principle in this regard still holds relevant and true.
The concrete plans of a bridge, where many can be involved in the process, are often not the same in the creation of art. As grandiose an audience that art can expand to, its manifestation is often associated with an individual effort.
There are ways that a person can see things that they couldn’t simply talk to others about. And perhaps they just don’t feel like it. In both inception and construction, art can be quite the private process. It may not be necessary (for many an artist it is), but is a common theme and choice. Many writers and painters fit into this category.
It could be a foreign or private emotion, a complex idea, or a personal agenda that one is only comfortable sharing abstractly through the final display of the product. Ideas can be much easier to share when the mind converts these meditations into artistic manipulation or disguise. The general, to the deep, are put on in this display for others to interpret as they will.
It’s the favored way for many artists to bridge out to others.
Inspires the Masses
Sometimes the message is quite clear and contagious. Art also has the ability to have a blanket-coat effect on many minds. It can create a bond that people may or may have not known they wanted or needed.
“There is a continual exchange of ideas between all minds of a generation. Journalists, popular novelists, illustrators, and cartoonists adapt the truths discovered by the powerful intellects for the multitude. It is like a spiritual flood, like a gush that pours into multiple cascades until it forms the great moving sheet of water that stands for the mentality of a period.” – Auguste Rodin
One person’s craft (or a group’s) can change many other’s world outlook. Sincerely formulated words, visuals, and music can plant seeds in the entire range of human emotion. Hope, love, anger, and joy are all open to the influence of art. It can grab the attention of the mind and redirect its patterns of thought for life. THAT IS POWERFUL!
Musicians are well-known for this type of influence. The 60s peace movement of freedom and the unique music that came out of that era is a popular example. The jam rock band, The Grateful Dead, had people give up their daily life grinds to pursue a lifestyle free of convention, corporate coldness, and chaste systems of traditional American culture. Fans gave up their jobs, left their families, and lived as gypsies following the band around the country for years; even decades.
The band’s music and message authentically transformed their fans lives forever; for better or worse. Talk to the average “DeadHead” and you’ll find that they not only have no regrets, but wouldn’t have had it any other way.
This type of movement can also happen through the poetic and intellectual genres all the way to the sculptural. One of the most modern forms of this example takes place in the Western United States.
Burning Man festival is a culmination of the arts that is displayed through symbolic structures. It is an experiment in community and art. The festival was inaugurated June 21, 1986, and continues to grow in popularity and attraction. It is held annually in the Nevada Black Rock Desert.
The ritualistic burning of a large wooden man ends the celebration. This event is an iconic reminder to keep the creative fires burning. Burning Man boasts a thriving year-round culture by a community of global participation. The symbolic influential principles shared by its participants are:
- Radical Inclusion
- Radical Self-Reliance
- Radical Self-Expression
- Communal Effort
- Civic Responsibility
- Leave No Trace (One person took this quite literally one year and jumped into the fire to his death)
Here we see a prime example of how art and the mind can connect through the collective consciousness.
Can Be Controversial
Art isn’t always so harmoniously shared or inspiring. Sometimes its perceived energy turns heads more than it unites bodies. Provocative art can cause disruption in the public eye. Some question the integrity of these creations and debate whether they can even be considered art. In either case, the piece stirs up the mind. And that is often the intention of its inventor.
“If you have to say or do something controversial, aim so that people will hate that they love it and not love that they hate it.” -Criss Jami
Cutting edge artists take risks by exploring the taboo; often addressing the proverbial elephant in the room. Eminem is known to do this in his lyrics; Madonna in the past through sexual displays on stage. More off-the-cuff artists may not have such a lasting impression or status of infamy, but still have their claim to fame in shock value.
Andres Serrano created the Piss Christ in 1987. It is a picture of a plastic crucifix submerged in a cup of his urine. It naturally sparked religious controversy. In 2011 Catholic fundamentalists attempted to destroy the photograph with hammers. Ironically, this caused a climax of public anger towards the hammer wielding Catholics. (You’d think that they would have used fire in practicality and ultimate symbolic retaliation.)
We witness that art can cause violent reactions from those in opposition. It is this author’s view that this is quite a weak-minded backlash.
Whether in enjoyment or disgust, art pushes boundaries as much as it can overstep some. If there are no actual crime victims (via theft, violence, or extortion, to name a few), there really isn’t a good reason to react irrationally or savagely. But this is part of human nature, and another display of how art can have a powerful impact on the mind.
Healthy for the Brain
For the artist, the creation process can be quite therapeutic. Releasing tension, venting thoughts, and creating in itself can raise serotonin levels. It can be that the final product gives the artist an objective view of their internal conflicts when transformed and viewed in artistic expression. The work becomes a “frame” to what’s in the mind and viewed in the form of a captured prize.
“Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas” – Donatella Versace
In essence, through this process, the artist ends up with the thrill of victory over his or her internal battles. Not every article is going to instill these feelings. Part of the artistic process involves battles that are not always won, and end up a mere documentation of the struggle. It is possible, though, that another can be influenced for the better by the production.
Art is a form of communication. And in all forms of communication, emotions, ideas, and information are exchanged. When shared, inspiration can and does happen within the person absorbing the work as well. Humans have a unique and complex relationship with art. Once again, it can be to a degree of a personal or public movement.
This exchange and process of artistic activity has an impact on brain waves and emotions. These chemical reactions can affect a person to have a completely new view on life and how they interpret and experience the world; whether through creation or ingestion. The art and the mind relationship is reminiscent of the yin-yang symbol of balance.
This back and forth nature has reflections of dance or of a brawl; a cry for help or a spit in the face. It’s part of the dynamics of the human experience; the cycle of life. Art is ingrained in the mind, body, and soul. It’s been within us from the beginning of our recorded history. There’s a reason it is continually echoed, “Life imitates art. Art imitates life.”
Speaking of clichés, this author will advise all to not die with the music still inside you.