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Art – What is it for?

Ellen Benson art

Ellen Benson with her art. Photo by dave christopher/kate mellina

For every piece in a museum, gallery, show, book, magazine or shop, there are 1000s languishing in closets, basements, attics, under the bed or buried under piles of all the other “stuff” you’ve made.

Do you respect your art – these things, objects, words, creations that you make? This last stage of the creative process – DELIVER – is all about what you do with your art when you are done.

As a teenager, wanting so badly to be an artist, I would show my Dad my latest creation. “That’s nice,” he would say, “what’s it for?”

What is it for if not to sell, hang on the wall, be in a show or make you a famous artist? Before I share what I know, take 3 minutes to write down all the things you think your art is for.

Pencils down.

Here’s my list:

What Art is For

Fulfillment of our divine and inherent gift for self-expression
A way to say “I was here. I matter.”
Personal health and well being
Creating connection
Leaving a legacy

The true purpose of creating art is for these five priceless rewards.

To DELIVER your art is to honor it, respect it and love it. Love it, not in spite of its flaws, but because of them. Each mark, word, stitch or brushstroke is evident that you were here. You made this.

To DELIVER your art is to put it out into the world. Create connections by sharing your art with others. Rather than always looking up at those that are better at it than you, turn around and see the ones that do not yet have the courage or understanding to create. Share your talent, your love of making with others.

To DELIVER your art is to use rejection by one person to create connection with another. Engage others in discussion or creative play. Build your creative courage by encouraging others.

To DELIVER your art is to compile, chronicle and document what is important to you, so that your best friends, in-laws, granddaughter, great-great-nephew on your fathers side, next-door neighbor or estate sale buyer will know and understand your “who and why” story. No need to wait till you’re gone though, right? Let them know now.

If you take a “who cares” or “what’s it for?” attitude about your art, that’s what people will take away from your art. Creating art, expressing yourself is a gift to value. Celebrate that and create on.

(photo of Ellen Benson by dave christopher/kate mellina)