The value of art is that it bridges our individual viewpoints creating a collaborative, communal sensitivity. Art is culture creating itself.

What is the root of all Art? What do Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier, Abromavic and Ulay’s Imponderabilia, and my niece’s drawing of blue grass all have in common?

Every piece of art is made for the same reason; to share the perspective of the artist. Our experience of our world is unique and solitary, our expressions are an attempt to share that experience. An artwork is an invitation to see the world from an exclusive point of view. Monet’s Le Bassin Aux Nympheas still shares with us that he was moved by the beauty of that light on that lily pond. 

To make art you have to validate your perspective. You have to know that your experience of your world is true, meaningful, and valuable, even when it contradicts the experience of others. 

When my niece drew the grass with a blue marker she did not seek validation, she made her choice. Being responsible for your perspective is empowerment. When you take responsibility as the creator of your perspective you are no longer subject to the validation of others.

Once you truly value your perspective you’ll realize your exclusive point of view has the same value as every other point of view.  If your truth is real, everyone’s truth is real. So how do we function in a world where every point of view is valid, no matter how different they are? 

The challenge lies in our understanding of value. Believing something is ‘right’ makes believing something that is different ‘wrong’, acknowledging one thing as beautiful means acknowledging something else as ugly. 

Valuing things in comparison to each other creates a value scale. The value of a thing becomes subject to its place on the scale instead of being intrinsic to its nature. In other words; the value of a Louis Vuitton bag does not come from it being a bag, its value is decided by where we put it on our value scale. We chose its value. 

That Monet painting of the pond is worth $80.4 million because that is what someone chose to pay for it. Its real value, the sharing of Monet’s experience, is impossible to understand or express in terms of money.    

We understand in terms of contrast. We know what ‘up’ is because it is not ‘down’. We know what ‘hot’ is because it is not ‘cold’. You don’t see the polar bear in the snowstorm because you can’t see the difference between the white bear and the white snow. This way of understanding what a thing is by comparing it to everything it is not forces us into isolation. You know who you are because you are not me, because you are different and separate from everything around you. You are at the center of your world, but you observe it, you are not a part of it. 

The value of art is that it challenges this perceived isolation. Art is our attempt to share our world. It is an invitation to see what someone else sees, to feel what someone else feels. Once you value your perspective the practice of ‘making art’ is figuring out the best way to share your experience. 

How can you say some thing in a way someone else will hear it, understand it, feel it, the way you do? 

You honour the perspective of others. Good art is the illustration of an idea, great art is the transmission, the sharing, of an experience. The only way you can share your point of view is to express it in the language of the person you’re trying to reach. 

Simply giving is elitist. You’re in a position of domination when you give. You have the time, money, the ideas, and you decide when and how much is given.  

Sharing is frightening and unsettling because you are equal to who you share with. You’re not separate from, or in charge of, you are present and vulnerable. Sharing means being open to how others perceive so you can communicate your point of view in a way they will understand. Art is the sharing of what is familiar, the creation of tribe. Art is the expression of culture. Art is the effort to prove we are not alone. 

I would risk saying that in Bermuda the value of communication is high because our isolation is deep. Ask yourself how often you feel heard here. How often do you feel judged, misunderstood, or alone?  

How often do you judge others, proving to yourself that you know better? You will remain alone if you do not accept the tribe. 

Look at the art of James Cooper and Graham Foster to see something unique to Bermudian culture; our sense of ‘play’. 

Look for Louisa Flannery’s work that shares the personal struggle of being a woman in our global village. Notice how similar that struggle is to yours, regardless of your gender. 

Look for Dany Pen’s work to experience how universal your humanity really is. Go to galleries after the openings and don’t look at the price tags. Read one of Brian Burland’s books. Go to Chewstick. Be brave, be vulnerable, and share. 

Michael Walsh, BC Senior Arts Lecturer. 

Find out more by contacting Thaao Dill, Bermuda College Recruitment Officer: Email tdill@college.bm or call 239-4099.