RiverArts Salon: Mary and Howard McCoy "What is Art For?"

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RiverArts Salons are opportunities for intimate conversation, community connection, learning and fun.

Mary and Howard McCoy, environmental artists and stewards of the earth who live on a working farm on the banks of the Chester River, spoke on "What is Art For?"

Mary shared an original poem, "Wonderings during a Pandemic," and Mary and Howard spoke about what art is, and what art can do: Art can express what is inexplicable, and explain the incomprehensible. They also discussed the process of making art, and how the path is more important than the goal or final product ("the path is the teacher"), calling us to stop, look, and listen to nature. Today, and always, we can all learn to hone our seeing skills.

References and quotations included: Ellen Dissanyake's book "What is Art For?" - the idea that art makes something special and confers or designates importance. The author shares that art, craft, play, ritual, and storytelling can bond a community and are essential to human survival.

"Art makes life bearable. It isn't a luxury. Like our capacity for understanding, and our experience of love, it is a vitally important part of life." - Gillian Pederson Krag

“Habitualization devours objects, clothes, furniture, one's wife, and the fear of war. If all the complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been. Art exists to help us recover the sensation of life; it exists to make us feel things, to make the stone stony. The end of art is to give a sensation of the object seen, not as recognized. The technique of art is to make things 'unfamiliar,' to make forms obscure, so as to increase the difficulty and the duration of perception. The act of perception in art is an end in itself and must be prolonged. In art, it is our experience of the process of construction that counts, not the finished product.” - Victor Shklovsky

Charles Wuorinen, composer -- thoughts on entertainment (received passively) & art (requires effort from receiver)

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