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๐•€๐•ค ๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ฅ ๐•’ ๐•๐•ฆ๐•ฉ๐•ฆ๐•ฃ๐•ช ๐• ๐•ฃ ๐•’ ๐•Ÿ๐•–๐•”๐•–๐•ค๐•ค๐•š๐•ฅ๐•ช? ๐•๐•š๐•–๐•จ ๐•—๐•ฃ๐• ๐•ž ๐•’ ๐•ซ๐• ๐•ž๐•“๐•š๐•– ๐•’๐•ก๐• ๐•”๐•’๐•๐•ช๐•ก๐•ค๐•–.

Updated: May 11


@hmguirephoto, Wassaw Island

I often wonder what I would do, shall there be a zombie apocalypseโ€ฆย 


Doesnโ€™t everyone? Donโ€™t go anywhere, this is still an article about art, albeit the zombie context (cue the Cranberries). I happen to read a LOT of dystopian fiction (wrote one too, but I wonโ€™t digress), and I like to โ€˜what-ifโ€™.


In time of doom, what survival skills would I have to offer should the world become a โ€˜kill-or-be-killed-survival-of-the-fittestโ€™ scenario? Besides the fact that I function reasonably well under pressure and in stressful situations, I couldn't tell ya the difference between a good mushroom and a deadly one. I do know what to do should I encounter a black bearโ€ฆ again. I didnโ€™t the first time, but I do now (story for another time). The problem remains, however, I canโ€™t tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly. It's a problem when the proper reaction (and chance of survival) relies on the distinction.ย 


Bottom line, Iโ€™m an artist. I donโ€™t have tangible skills to survive in the wild. I wish I did, but I donโ€™t. I might make it through the first bell of the Hunger Games, but the odds ain't in my favor. Realistically, Iโ€™ll be out by mid-games.ย 


Does it mean Iโ€™m just an embellisher of life?ย That does not sound vital.


Which leads me to the deeper question, is art a superfluous luxury or a necessity to the essence of human life?ย 


These are big fighting wordsโ€ฆ but arenโ€™t you entertained yet?


As someone who makes a living creating artistic imagery (photos, I take photos), I have debated time and again (by myself and with others) about the price tag of creations. Most of said discussions and debates end with โ€˜the price is high and art is a luxuryโ€™. In other words, art is something that is not necessary or critical for survival and is, therefore, a โ€˜non-essentialโ€™.ย 


To push it further down the path of luxurious commodities, art is often used as currency, or financial investment in the same way as real estate. It is an object of acquisition, value-building, transaction, stored away and exchanged from vault to vault. One would purchase art, with or without interest in it, simply to own and resell for profit. Despite Indiana Jones wishes, not all art ends in a museum.


Of course, from my perspective, art is so much more. But letโ€™s back up a bit first before we board the emotion wagon. What has art meant through the ages?ย 


Yasss, we's gonna talk history, sit. Iโ€™ll go fastโ€ฆ ish.


We can find traces of art created by humans as far as the prehistoric era. This type of artwork depicted animals, hunting scenes, abstract symbols, giving us insight into the prehistoric society and to a certain extent their belief system.ย 


Ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, produced monumental architecture, sculptures, paintings destined for religious, political and honoring purposes. Art represents a mark of status, as well as it is a witness of culture and technical advancements. Art is a sign of the times.ย 


Moving on to Medieval times (the 5th-15th century), the age of religious art, illuminated manuscripts, and gargantuan cathedrals building across Europe. The period is rich in symbolism, intricate ornamentation and spiritual themes.


The Renaissance, starting in 14th century Italy, brings back antiquity, and scientific discoveries (think Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, but not the turtle ones). We witness the creation of masterpieces celebrating the beauty of nature and the potential of human achievements.


Then come the 17th and 18th centuries with Baroque and Rococo art which are fun to say, but also characterized by dramatic compositions, dynamic movement, depths and intensity. Art with and for emotion (yay). Caravaggio, Rembrandt for Baroque have theatrics, gravitas, work of contrasts. Rococo later, has lightness and elegance.


The 19th century shakes things up. Itโ€™s the rise of Romanticism, Realism, and the avant-garde Impressionists and Symbolists. Turner, Delacroix, Monet, VanGogh, Munch explored not only new techniques but new ways to express ideas and social themes, voluntarily provoking the classic art status quo in the process.


Then โ€˜exit: light, enter: nightโ€™ (go Metallica, go 90s rock), or rather enter: Modern and Contemporary Art in the 20th-21st century (thatโ€™s us). Representation is pushed to the brink with Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract, Expressionism, Pop and Conceptual Art. We strive to represent the idea, the thought, the symbol of an emotion. We dig in the intimate and raw. Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Pollock, Warhol, Basquiat, pushed the boundaries of the concepts of identity.


Throughout history, art has served as a means of expression, communication, and cultural reflection, evolving in response to changing societal, political, and technological contexts. It continues to inspire, provoke, and enrich our lives today with Street Art, Banksy, performance art or the rebellion or the ephemeral. If I start, we'll be here a while (#fan).


Art has been a cultural witness, a deep-cut translator of history with its social changes and movements, a guardian of preservation. It has been a challenger of ideas, a translator of thoughts and progress, a demonstrator of values, richness and human achievements.ย 


But Art is also a personal expression of emotions and a bridge builder.ย 


How often have we used art as a means to express our deepest feelings, whether too difficult or too overwhelming to put into words for ourselves or others. We use it to communicate emotions, ideas, experiences. Art therapy for instance, shows us how creating and using art can be a vital tool for mental health. Hasnโ€™t Picasso said โ€˜the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.โ€?


It connects communities and individuals across cultures and identities. Aristotle wrote โ€˜The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known.โ€™ Some ideas and emotions expressed by one, can reach that of another and allow a channel of connection, communication and understanding. โ€˜This poem, this painting, this song understands what Iโ€™m feeling. This piece of art is exactly what I wanted to say without being able to. It is my sadness, or my love, or my intensity.โ€™ Art helps translate emotions into digestible and perceivable pieces of information. A direct input and output of emotion to emotion, suggestion to reaction. Art helps express, provoke, and subsequently understand one's emotions. Some of which we donโ€™t always even know ourselves until we either create or receive the art.ย 


The actor Ethan Hawke explained it beautifully in an interview from 2020 titled "Give Yourself Permission to be Creative" * in which he refered to art as 'sustenance' (see link below)). Art has the ability to help interpret those bottled emotions you don't know how to process, explain or share. This melody, those lyrics, this performance in this film, that's what I've been feeling inside. And the best part is, we don't have to like or agree to rip the benefits. If a piece or art whether it be music, painting or anything, created a reaction positive or not, it pushed us into considering why we disagree, why we are repuslsed. It made us grow and develop a new thought.


Writing has unlocked a mode of expression I never suspected would liberate me to such levels. I pushed my thoughts into digestible words, henceforth forcing me to untangle and organize them.


Throughout history, art has served as a means of expression, communication, and cultural reflection, evolving in response to changing societal, political, and technological contexts. It continues to inspire, provoke, and enrich our lives today.


So to our original premise, I say, no. Art will likely not be useful in the immediate event of a zombie apocalypse. What it will do, is help us survive as a species in the long run, either with emotional support through dark times or tby preserving the legacy of our existence.


To me, that makes it a necessity.ย 


Now, Iโ€™m also thinking a solid swag of my 10lbs 5D into a drool-ish walking dead could at the very least give me a head start.ย 


H.



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