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Sunday, August 6, 2023

Meaning in Art

What makes art meaningful? How can you make your artworks have meaning? Why would you? What even is meaning?

When we speak of meaning, we speak of something of importance. Something with a worth that goes beyond what is at face value. Something that can be immediately experienced but not as instantly explained. Meaning is contextual and nuanced. It can be pinpointed, paying close attention, but not simplified, for it would be lost. Indeed, it is something abstract. And in many cases, deeply personal.

Art is a conduit for meaning. You can make art meaningful to you and/or to others. Intentionally or not. This is both a talent and a skill. Perceiving, interpreting, and translating meaning is a process with many layers and levels to master. Tapping into what’s beyond. If it doesn’t seem complex to you, you may be missing a great part of it or you may be gifted at conveying meaning. Possibly both, if you haven’t made the unconscious conscious and, yet, still comes through and is plastered on your artworks.

For art to be meaningful, there has to be something more to it than being pleasant or impressive. It must internally touch and move a person in a manner that evokes thoughts and feelings that lead to a sort of completion or wholeness within them. So they are fulfilled by it. This can be healing, clarifying, fortifying, and more. Essentially, it is meant to fill a void.

By tending to yourself, making what is meaningful to you or what brings you meaning, and granting access to this, you naturally tend to others that share the same state and condition you were in when you decided to do this work. However, it can also be done from a more distanced place, remembering what you once craved or yearned for even if you no longer do. Further than that, you may be a stranger to it but still able to, through intuition or by instinct, respond appropriately to what others are deprived of, picking up on the signs that they are giving off.

Meaning can as well be grasped through emotion, though you’d have to decompress those, and through reason, though you’d have to articulate that. This is a longer (and more tedious) path and approach to it, one that can be quite confusing and misleading, but it can also be more enriching to you as it makes you more thorough and aware of what it all implies and entails.

If you don’t know where to begin, take some time to reflect. Wonder and marvel as much as you can. Be alone with yourself and what you’ve been through. What has your life been like? Are there parts of it that you wouldn’t trade away, whether they were good or bad? Do you see puzzle pieces that you can put together to reveal a greater picture? Is it strange yet fascinating how things work and turn out? And if that’s not enough, go out for a walk and look around. But this time, look at everything with fresh eyes and no rush to reach any conclusion or form any opinion. What amazes you?

Finding meaning is a profound and intricate journey. One through which you may begin seeing life itself as a work of art full of significance.