Seth Godin suggests there are three vital elements to making Art:
Art is made by a human being.
Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.
He concludes by suggesting that most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.
I never know if what I’m making is a masterpiece or a catastrophe, partly because I rarely have a vision for how things will turn out, and partly because (despite appearances) I’m making a lot of this up as I go along.
I recently helped a student confront her anxiety and participate in a school camp. She was extremely nervous about sleeping over and her parents had picked her up the night before. This time, I gently encouraged her to face her fears, talked through all the possibilities, and set up plan a for her to see her through to the morning.
When that didn’t work, I lied to her. I told her I’d already texted her parents and told them that she was staying and she was stuck at camp. After she’d calmed down, she agreed it was the right decision, and she really did want to stay, and she wanted to be proud of herself for toughing it out.
Once she voiced that feeling, I told her that, ‘Now, I really will let Mum and Dad know!’
When her eye’s starting welling up, I questioned my tactics. But, she blinked away the tears, called me a ‘Poo,’ and had a wonderful time for the rest of the camp. It wasn’t easy for her, but she did it. Her ‘Thank you,’ at the end of the camp was worth more than any currency.
This is my Art. My Art is not in the tests, tasks, grades, and lessons. It’s not in Mathematics and English. It’s in the human connections; the opportunities to make an impact on human lives; it’s in the gift of time, conversation and understanding. This is the Art I get up in the morning for.
My Art usually is only shared with a small audience. This week, I know there’s at least one more person who appreciates it.