An artist creates something that was not there before, material or immaterial. That process begins with perception and ends with that which the artist creates. In the process, many things are possible, but almost always art shows and experiences a different world, sometimes a better one, but not necessarily.
Is it desirable for artists to try to create a "better" world? Sometimes yes, and it happens frequently. Interesting examples of this occur in our podcast series What's that doing here? ADVERTISEMENT.
Not everyone can and wants to imagine a better world, and even then there are plenty of options: an artist can try to interpret the world, provide insights, offer a different perspective, or "just" make something. There are those who do not relate in any way to the political or social domain, or to any domain at all. Who make art because that is all they want.
Not everyone can and will think of a better world
In an artist's work, thinking and acting is often freer than in other professions. This makes it so evident for many artists to relate to social issues. But what about art that relates only to the inner world of its creator? Doesn't that involve the "larger outside world" as well? For example, in the phase of perception, the phase that involves the audience. The energy and passion that goes into making art is, if all goes well, transferred one-to-one to the audience, the people who get a glimpse of a world they did not know before. They are carried away, uplifted and may even experience a sense of euphoria. A very small piece of the world has become a better place for a moment, who knows where that will lead.
The energy and passion that goes into making art is conveyed one-on-one
In our podcast, we collect great stories about socially engaged artists. They are able to mean a lot in all kinds of situations. This is partly because they move into a "free zone" where rules can work in a different way, allowing those rules to be interpreted and deployed with imagination and creativity. Whatever art is involved, that imagination always plays a big role: what is not there (yet) but could be there. It can produce something that is valuable in itself, such as an overwhelming painting or an image that hits you right in the gut upon observation. And it can produce something that questions and explores the world with the goal of making it a better place. Both are of great value.