What is art?
A form of expression? Political or self?
A common bond, which brings us together – one in the same?
An outlet for thousands to seek comfort?
A needle that impales the skin of our minds, delivering our drug of choice to where we need it most?
A distraction from our reality?
Our reality entirely?
Are we that lucky?
Is art our reality?
Are we art?
Are we beautiful?
Are we intricate?
Are we fine?
Are we priceless?
Are we precious?
We are sloppy.
We are messy.
We are scattered.
We are abrasive.
We are provocative.
We are socially unacceptable.
We are without shame.
We are stubborn.
We are layered.
We are fake.
But is that not what art is?
Like a canvas covered in oils, we are explosive, we are limitless –
Unrecognizable from start to finish.
We stretch, we fade, we snap, we tear.
We re-stretch, we cover up, we brace, we patch.
We bounce back.
We try again.
We fail. Fail again. And again. Yet again.
But then, we succeed.
Art is not perfect, not without flaws. Flaws are art, just attempted again.
We might not always be Da Vinci, but even the Mona Lisa covers up some scars.
“What is Art?” started for me after I read an excerpt from Cuba in Splinters, where the author explores the idea of what art should and shouldn’t be. I started, as I always do, listing questions that helped me draw conclusions about what I wanted to talk about. I tend to find that when I do this, I get a more organic composition that is unplanned, yet entirely organized and cohesive. By suggesting my ideas on what art could possibly be, I hoped the reader might stop and mull over what art is to them. As a writer, that is my main goal. I want to help the reader reach a place they have not visited before. I want to have them think about things in a new and interesting way that, like art, challenges our notion of what is and what could be.
Moving forward, I wanted to have a clear breaking point in the poem, so readers could stop and reflect, as well as give them a break to clearly comprehend what is coming next. From there, I decided to shift gears and use statements rather than questions. The adjectives I used here were specially picked so they could also describe what a painting is. A painting is “sloppy,” “messy,” “scattered,” “abrasive,” “provocative,” “socially unacceptable” at times, “without shame,” “stubborn,” and “layered,” which can be seen as “fake” to some laymen. While we, as humans, are all of these things, we can also be good things too! The rest of the poem focuses on the positives of what it is to be human, and also poses if we are examples of art. I wanted to end with a clear connection between a painting and what it means to be a human, so if some readers didn’t understand my subtleties before, they might go back, re-read, and understand now.
Although this was my first time writing a poem in about 10 years, I found it to be quite therapeutic and relaxing. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the words flowed from my brain to the page itself, and I especially liked that I wasn’t confined by the limitations, restrictions, and rules normally associated with essay-writing. Any form of writing whether it be prose, poetry, or even social media, can be used as a vehicle to send a message, and I’m excited to start using poetry to further my thoughts about the other, society, stereotypes, fashion, connection, and injustices.