What is art?

Balloona Lisa by Larry Moss

It is never more obvious to me that I work in a peculiar medium than when I hear the words, “Wow! It’s just like art!” The implication, of course, is that it’s not ACTUALLY art.  It’s only LIKE art. This begs the question, “What is art?”  Should the choice of medium have an impact on the definition of a work? Is the permanence of the creation relevant? Does someone have to use the title “artist” in order to create something that we call “art”? This discussion of what constitutes art has been going on (and will no doubt continue) for centuries. In my humble opinion, however, any inspired creation should be looked at as art. It can be as intangible as a story told aloud, as temporary as a culinary dish, as “permanent” as a marble sculpture, or as functional as a machine. Most importantly, though, art generates an emotional response from its audience. It would seem, therefore, that almost any creation can then be classified as art. Likewise, any medium that can be used for creation should be considered a valid medium for art.

larry_moss_apAnd yet sculpture created with balloons -- the medium I've chosen to use -- gets classified as “like art”. I’ve decided to play with that and enjoy that odd place. I've come to the conclusion that the only way I'm going to find my work on walls alongside the great masters is to recreate the works of the great masters myself and place my own work between them. Along the way I want to challenge people’s preconceived notions of what art is. I want to make that art accessible to everyone. To that end, I have studied some of the most recognized pieces of art of the last few centuries and tried to capture the elements that make them great. I am participating in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan to show off this work and hope others will visit my work there to further explore these ideas.

I won't be drawing or painting with pen, pencil or paintbrush like the masters I'm emulating in this exhibit. Instead, I'll inflate and form balloons into the complex masterpieces that are familiar to so many people. Art created with balloons certainly won’t have the longevity of the 16,000-year-old paintings found in the Lascaux caves in France, but it will make someone smile.  Now, that’s art.

ArtPrize is an international Art Competition taking place September 23 - October 10, 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI. Larry Moss's work, consisting of a series of recreations/reinterpretations of famous masterpieces will feature Botticelli's The Birth of Venus as its centerpiece. It will be on display at the Furniture Campus Building, 560 Fifth Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Construction will begin September 21. Thanks to Paula Scott Unlimited and the Furniture Campus Building for hosting this Airigami work.