[COLUMN] Thinking Out Loud: Redefine what art means to you


Submitted by Jenny Ries

Thinking Out Loud is a monthly column by Opinions Editor Jenny Ries.

I never thought I had much talent as an artist, a creator. After three years of romanticizing photojournalism on the Rubicon, I can barely change the shutter speed on a camera without help. My drawing skills are pretty much limited to doodling flowers, and I always end up liking the way my painting palette, or even paint-splattered paper towels, look 10 times better than the painting I did. In orchestra, my stand partner makes 95 percent of the sound coming from the two of us. I can’t sing to save my life, and don’t dance much better, despite my best efforts.
So does this mean that I don’t express myself, that I don’t create?
It occurs to me that this is a narrow view of what constitutes art, one that makes it hard to appreciate all of the different ways all of us contribute to the collective gallery that often goes unnoticed and unacknowledged.
We’re all constantly creating, putting things out into the world. Every time we breathe, we take the oxygen around us in, and breathe it out as carbon dioxide. We literally change the world around us with every breath.
Every time each of us does something that leaves a mark, whether it’s on the earth, other people, even our own minds, we create and we express ourselves. Smiling at someone, having a conversation, thinking, breathing, it’s all art.
Sometimes people create, express, and build by making paintings and music, by dancing, taking pictures, and writing poems. Sometimes people put things out into the world that we are not used to seeing as art, but that nevertheless inspire us and shape our world. Things like caring for others, thinking, sitting still and listening.
If we broaden our definition of art, maybe we’ll find that we’re all artists, just by existing in the world and letting other people know that we’re here.