How do you decide what makes something art?

By: Katie Albertino – Communication

What is considered art?

That was the question camped out in my mind after I read a satirical article that reported U.K. – based graffiti artist Banksy was identified and arrested by London police.

The article, by National Report, claimed a “24-hour Anti-Graffiti Task Force” monitored and arrested a group of men, including Banksy, after vandalism occurred. (Reminder: this National Report article was satirical; it is fake.)

The mere idea of having law enforcement officers patrol for graffiti seemed mind-boggling to me. How can we give a small group of people the power to differentiate between what is and isn’t art?

People think and perceive things differently; influenced by their experiences and environment. Different points of view and opinions blossom through this diversity, which I think can enrich our world.

The varying thoughts people have about art are no different than any other situation. One person may enjoy watercolors, while another is fascinated by drip painting. Graffiti may seem acceptable by one individual, while another would categorize it as vandalism. A mathematician may enjoy geometric art, and a botanist may fancy viewing fields of wildflowers.

With so many perspectives, how is it possible to make a decision on what is and isn’t art? Why are certain types of art, such as graffiti or tattoos, condemned? Why is the decision given to a small group of the population?

If only a few people are given the power, what would be considered art?

The new sculptures by Marycrest and the Humanities building? Graffiti on buildings or trains? Tattoos? Painted canvases in a museum? Engraved stones in a field? Billboards lining the highways? Doritos commercials? Academy Award winning movies? Music heard on the radio? Writing?

Everyone should be given the opportunity to express themselves through any and every art form. There shouldn’t be a restriction because one group of people identifies a piece of art as offensive.

There is an image on the side of a barber shop right outside the city of Cleveland that I’ve passed for the past couple of years while driving home. On the black background is a painted image of LeBron James with his arms outstretched blowing chalk in the air. Within the chalk it reads “Come Home”. The first time I laid eyes on this wall, I was in awe. It wasn’t just beautifully crafted, it also captured the feelings of a die-hard sports town in one simple image.

And that is what art is meant to do: unite people, allow emotions to pour out and make people think about the world around them.

Banksy’s artwork sends a message that makes the observer ponder and reflect on the world around them. And, the sculptures outside of Marycrest and Humanities, the music blasting through a window from Founders and the myriad of ways art is found throughout this campus all contain that aspect of art: it makes you feel something.

If one of these forms of art were taken away, one form of thought-provoking power would be erased from our world.

Even though the report from National Report was fake, we shouldn’t just brush off the idea of people controlling what is and isn’t art.

What is considered art? I’ll let you determine that for yourself.

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