13 October 2009

Subjectivity: Isn't it Grand?

Last week, while on my trip, I watched part of Mona Lisa Smile, a movie that I really enjoy simply because it's different. There's a scene in the middle where the teacher shows her students different slides of various works of Art--something grotesque, something childish, and finally an advertisement. "Is this Art?" she asks her class.

One of the students answers, "It's only Art when someone says it is."

"It's Art!" the teacher declares.

To which the student replies with a scathing look over her shoulder, "The right someone."

Perhaps you've had this discussion before. When is something we write considered Art? Is it because it was written down on actual paper? Is it when someone reads it? Or is it only when it elicits a response, whether one of disgust, one of wonder, or the myriad of emotions in between?

And of course, if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

The beauty of Art is that it is subjective, something that affects each of us differently. Things that move you might not move me--and vice versa. It's the beauty of humanity, how we are each unique, each masterpieces, and can differ so greatly from each other.

And then there's the question: who are the "right" people? Agents? Editors? Publishing staff?

Or the readers?

If my novels never get published, are they still Art? Or is that elusive label only for books on the shelves?

I believe that Art elicits a response, and that the right people are simply the audience that lends their attention. For that to happen, the creator needs to create in whatever form he/she needs to so an audience can view it. Then again, the artist can be the audience as well. After all, we have definitely have our own opinions and responses to what we create. Why can't we be that "someone" for ourselves?

That being said, I still want that publishing contract. :0)

See y'all Thursday!

**Image found on Google Images***


  1. Boy do I hear you on this one!

    I am still learning that it is Art as soon as I think it...that the thoughts and motivations to write in and of themselves are the gift. It is easy to struggle with wanting more people to read it, see it, hear it...and feeling low when you don't think "enough" people are taking a peek.

    Thanks for this tonight...helped to refocus me!

  2. I'm learning that our ability to know what "is art" or what good writing looks like comes from a place deep within ourselves, especially when we are on the lonely path to publication. I think if our goal is to be published we must first work hard for Him, then ourselves, and everything else will happen in His time.

    Great post, Kristen.

  3. "That being said, I still want that publishing contract."

    Right there with you! (LOVE Mona Lisa Smile...)

  4. It's art! I don't care if no one else ever reads my writing (okay, maybe I do just a little). I think anytime someone creates something, it is art.

  5. Great words here. Yeah, I still want that publishing contract, too, but I have had a few other people read my books and they really enjoyed them. It means a lot to me that something I created entertained them, moved them, made them cry (not that I really want to make people cry, but the words of the book made them cry). Have a great day!

  6. I agree, Cindy! Writing is very much a ministry for all of us. When God uses what we've written, even in a very rough form, it's such and incredible gift!

  7. It is so subjective and it's good to have these reminders so that we don't put too much weight on one person's opinion (or rejection). It's more like a treasure hunt where we are searching out that perfect agent/editor who sees our work and says, "Shazam! where have you been all my life?"

    well, a girl can dream...

  8. i remember liking mona lisa smile, too. it was different....but i can't recall if i thought it ended the way it should have (romantically). anyway...good post, kristen. i feel the same way.

    The Character Therapist

  9. I love this post, Kristen. I was just talking to the Lord about this very topic this morning. I said, "I wonder how many books have been written that are stunning, but have never had the opportunity to get published?"

    I believe we will read those books in Heaven, where everything is evened out... but I still want a contract, too!

  10. I couldn't agree with you more. I was blindsided by the "that's not art" when I took some graphic design classes. "I just don't get it" was what the TEACHER told me when I was designing promo posters for an antique bookstore. "It's too old fashioined" she said. Really? Go figure. For an antique bookstore. Geez. Needless to say, I had enough after that class.


  11. Never saw the movie--but it sounds like I'd enjoy it!

    Yes, art is so subjective. But even if one person gains some sort of enjoyment from what you've created, it's art in my book. :)

  12. This reminds me of artists who paint their entire lives eeking out a living. They pass away and someone "discovers" the art. Suddenly it's huge. It's popular. And people wonder how they missed it. I hope we don't miss out on yours.

  13. The movie is a bit "different". I actually used part of it in a class once to aid in a project on Feminist theory in literature. As far as Julia Roberts' movies go, it's pretty unique--not the typical romance. That's probably why I liked it so much. But if you're in the mood for a chick flick, don't rent this one. :0)

    Haha, Jenn. Your professor was crazy. That's like being told your opinion was incorrect. Seriously--crazy!

    Thanks, Tara! Your comment made me smile! Here's to none of us becoming Emily Dickinson (in the sense that she was only "discovered" posthumously, because it would be awesome to be as widely published as she is)!

  14. So much art out there. We all have different tastes. I used to write for myself...but then I decided I wanted to share it with others (and maybe make a few dollars), so there were certain standards and guidelines I needed to follow...a commercial aspect to it.

    But I can *still* write for myself...whether it's poetry, journal entries, etc. Things that are just to satisfy my own artistic leanings!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  15. It's all art to me, even my childs drawing and little stories with all their spelling mistakes. If it's created with imagination, then it's art to me, whether it's published or not.

  16. Some art is for personal enjoyment or may appeal to a smaller group of people. If we want to publish our art the traditional way, then I think we have to write art that appeals to the masses!

  17. That's a great point, Jody! I definitely agree. Not everything we create is for the great big world. Some of it is just for us!

    It's like that children's story story--all are important, no matter how small.

  18. Art...I love art. And no, I don't think someone's opinion makes it art. When I watch a child sit and draw, interpreting life on paper, that's art. It's an expression of who we are. Isn't it grand?

  19. I think the right someone is ourselves. The trick is to find an editor who agrees.

    I think this also comes do to why we write, or rather who we write for. Ourselves, family and friends, the market or a sprinkling of each?

  20. There is a native quote that I have come to love, 'when you were born you cried, live your life so that when you die, others will cry.' I want that in my living, and in my writing. I write for me. I write because I have to. And there are options today to get what you wrote to the right readers. Think of The Shack - self published. Sold millions.

  21. Haha, Sarah--that's awesome! I already wrote my post for Friday and guess what? It's about "The Shack"! Great minds, eh? :0)

    That's a beautiful quote! Thanks for sharing it!

  22. Beautifully said. "Art elicits a response, and the right people are simply the audience that lends their attention." I love that line. That's what I believe too. Art is what is is the the eye that beholds.

    I want that publishing contract too :)

  23. I would watch the whole movie of Mona Lisa Smile if you get a chance.

  24. Publishing art is the only way to give it life , since it affects on people and changes ideas .
    Art non published is like a women non desired ....