You know how it is when you have a thread loose on your shirt sleeve that you can see out of the corner of your eye every time you move your arm?
It’s on the sleeve of your dominant hand, so whenever you have scissors handy you try to cut it off, but with your weaker hand you can’t manage the scissors well enough to get the thread between the blades. And if you do get that far, you’re still afraid to make the cut because from your peripheral vision you can’t tell if you’d be cutting the cloth of the sleeve as well as the errant thread.
You do know how that is, right? And then when there are no scissors around, and you start noticing the thread poking up from your sleeve again, you just want to pinch it tight between your thumb and index finger and yank it out to be rid of it once and for all.
But you know you can’t. You’ve been told that if you pull on a loose thread, the entire article of clothing will come undone and fall at your feet in a ragged, unraveled heap.
What I’m getting at here is:
What is the meaning of art?
Not following? See, the definition of art is like that wily, unruly thread that you just can’t quite get a hold on. And so you keep coming at it from different angles, thinking the meaning of art – heck, the whole meaning of life – is right there, just visible out of the corner of your eye.
Take hostas for example. You know, those green leafy plants that don’t look like ferns. Okay, so you’ve got your hostas over here, and over there somewhere you’ve got your ferns. And the question is:
When is a fern a hosta and when is a fern a fern, and who gets to decide?
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. But you’re still scratching your head and giving me that look, so I’ll continue. No, no, I insist.
I follow the Facebook page for Dale Chihuly, world-renowned glass sculptor. Yes, he’s the magnificent artist after whom I named my dog. It’s an honor really; maybe not so much for Dale, but certainly for my dog.
Recently, on Dale Chihuly’s Facebook page there was a photo of a glass art installation in Oseyrarsandur, Iceland, from the year 2000. The artwork is titled “Green Ferns.” I haven’t had the chance to hop over to Oseyrarsandur to snap a photo for you, but here’s the link to the FB photo:
Okay, so the artist is sharing a photo of the artist’s work which the artist has titled “Green Ferns.” And below the FB post someone comments, “I’d say those are hostas, not ferns…. But thanks!”
So here’s the question: are they ferns, because that’s what the artist says they are? Are they hostas, because that’s what the commenter says they are? Are they both, depending on who’s looking? This is starting to sound like that twine theory stuff. String, I meant string!
Does it matter at all what anyone thinks they are? I believe it does. If you’re watching a ballet featuring dying swans, for example, and someone says, “I’d say those are ducks, not swans… But thanks!”, don’t ya kinda think they’ve missed the whole point???
I don’t suppose Dale Chihuly is losing any sleep over this. I know my dog Chihuly certainly isn’t. And maybe I’ve just turned this whole matter into a ragged, unraveled heap on the floor.
Maybe someday I’ll see that niggling little thread out of the corner of my eye and I’ll turn my head and there they will be… all my answers to:
- who gets to say what is art?
- who gets to say what art is? (yes, those are two separate questions);
- what the heck is string theory, anyway? and
- why are so many loose threads in life just barely out of reach of one’s scissors?
I apologize, Mr. Chihuly, for pulling the thread. I just couldn’t help myself.
H is for Hostas.
Daily prompt: Green