The Accessibility of Art

In academia and in art, there’s a culture of “I know it more than you, therefore, I’m better”. It’s childish, isn’t it? To lord knowledge over somebody. It’s like picking up a shiny toy on the playground as a child and crowing about it because you’re the only kid who has it and everybody else can only sit there and watch.

    If knowledge should be shared, shouldn’t art be shared too? Art is like fashion, mercurial in some ways, always shifting. Changing like water along a shore. It has its trends. Its movements. Even recycled or revamped versions or techniques of how art used to be, and how it could be. It has more voices. More inputs, borrowings, and outright theft.

    But art, it should be shared, shouldn’t it? If someone finds it beautiful, then can’t they be allowed to call it beautiful? My mom, for example. She doesn’t get modern art. In fact, she’ll go to an art museum and immediately go for the shiniest objects. She’ll buy the cheap, plastic copies of copies of copies of flowers that Van Gogh might’ve painted, or rather, Van Gogh’s cousin. But who cares? It makes her happy.

    I contrast that, just seeing her smile as she points at glittering art, to going to museums in, say, a rather large city quite notorious for its theater and cheesecake. I love the cities that those museums thrive in, but the museums? I remember getting clucked at because I passed one painting by “too quickly”. I remember getting an eyeroll because I shared a smile with my friend. Something about the art reminded us of a story we wanted to share, but that was “disrespectful”.

    An art museum is not a burial ground. An art museum is not a place where art is left to die. It is supposed to be an experience of sharing. Of learning. Of having some semblance of enjoyment, and dare I say it, fun.

    Art, like knowledge, should be shared. It should be living, breathing, with lifeblood flowing through its veins. Art should be for everyone. Overprotective gallery purists not welcome, not unless you’re guarding the Mona Lisa.