Breath of Clarity

What is Art?

When we experience a loss of words, emotions become scarily difficult to pinpoint. This is when art serves its purpose. It evokes emotion out of individuals so that they don’t deal with the stress of the inability to communicate when necessary. The power of art is shown in its ability to take the creator outside of the self through expression of their perception on a subject. The strategic formal design elements create a desired effect in the viewer (happiness, sorrow, anger, confusion, etc.) and evoke an emotion whether or not the viewer experienced it the way it is portrayed.

Art uses specific techniques to tell a story aesthetically. In the picture Raging Bull, the desired effect is for the viewer to understand what is going through the boxer’s mind as he prepares himself for a fight. The three lines in the foreground of the scene makes it seem as though the subject is a caged animal, waiting to break free. The subject looked ghostly, showing that he is experiencing an adrenaline rush, as he competes in a significant match. The camera is fixed as the boxer moves around jumping. The viewer is immersed in the scene. It feels like a single, intense moment because the background is a painting. The boxer was so comfortable and so at peace. It looked as though the boxer was dancing because of the slow motion and classical music. The artist made these decisions to successfully convey such a speechless moment.

Author John Berger describes his perception of art in the piece The White Bird. Berger argues, “art is an attempt to transform the instantaneous (the emotion we feel before nature’s beauty) into permanence.” Artists attempt to freeze that moment for as long as possible. The emotion evoked is addicting, as it drives them to create.

Berger also explains that art has the power to restore a sense of hope and proclaim the recognition of beauty in a world with a fair amount of evil. For example, Berger explains how nature is a combination of energy and struggle. Nature is violent and unpredictable. It is fierce and indifferent about us as human beings. Every once in a while, though, we get beauty. Flowers are a promise of fertility; sunset is a remainder of fire and warmth; and moonlight makes the night less dark. Different qualities combine to create such a beautiful mystery.

In the song “Long Shadow” by Joe Strummer, the artist creates a specific energy for the listener by making aesthetic choices. The intimate individual with a guitar may keep his work simple and imperfect, but the rawness and authenticity that is born makes the piece so comfortable. The guitarist sympathizes with his audience, by intentionally not cleaning up or overproducing the song. This encourages a celebration of imperfection and struggle in life and provides a sense of hope that all individuals hold the strength to persevere.

Art is more pure and accurate than defined emotion. Observers of art experience a unique moment of understanding when viewing a piece. It’s the insight into ourselves that makes us crave that meaning in the midst of a chaotic world. Art is the order in our lives that keeps us standing in the midst of struggle. It provides beauty in the dark, which gives us a sense of hope and that circumstances in our lives will work themselves out. Ultimately, art is a form prayer. People pray with a purpose just as artists create in order to both share and gain clarity.