Essays by :

Linda Thern-Smith & Robyn Johnson-Ross


Definitions collected from November '98 to March, '99


"Art is not a plaything, but a necessity, and its essence, form, is not a decorative adjustment,
but a cup into which life can be poured and lifted to the lips and be tasted."
- Rebecca West (from Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, 1940; quote provided by John Spillane who also gave the quote context)

Art is derived from the Indo-Europeanroot ar-, other
important derivatives being arm, alarm, disarm, harmony,
inert, article, articulate, order, ordinary, ornate,adorn,
rate, ratio, reason, read, hatred, riddle, rite, arithmetic,
rhyme, earnest, orient, origin, original, hormone, born, abort.
- paraphrased from etymological dictionary by painter Warren Criswell

Quotes in chronological order, startingfrom the most recent:

Art is the act of communicating an idea, feeling, or emotion through craft.
David Fokos, Photographer, San Diego

Art must be more than purely visual.
John Mors, Sculptor, Arlington, VA.

A life without art is living like a beast; art makes it living like a human being.
Sanjoy Das, Painter, Calcutta, India

Art is the activity of creating beautiful things.
Treiops Treyfid, visual artist, Washington DC

Art defines us - we do not define art.
-Sheila Rotner, visual artist, Washington DC

Art is ART no longer - art is delay.
-Sheila Rotner, visual artist, Washington DC

Art is a chymical wedding between the sacred and the profane.
-Sheila Rotner, visual artist, Washington DC

Art gives form to the essence of our shared experience as human beings in the universe, creating myths which give meanng to life.
-Sheila Rotner, visual artist, Washington DC

Art is the process of redefining nature through the human soul.
- Prosser Stirling, performance artist, Washington, DC

The artist's role is not unlike a surgeon andjust as important: it is to alert humanity, to subtle but powerful changes in the environment - changes caused by the introduction of new or hybrid technologies and visible only to the artist, the outcast, the schizophrenic, and the child - by rearranging our senses so we can adapt less painfully to change (bend with the punches instead of taking them on the chin); art therefore is emergency surgery on our organs of perception.
- David Lent, video producer, Bethesda,Maryland

Art is the path to peace and conflict resolution.
-Mansoora Hassan, multimedia artist(Washington DC; Lahore, Pakistan)

Through art, we are bound together by a common thread of spirituality.
-Mansoora Hassan, multimedia artist(Washington DC; Lahore, Pakistan)

Art is the means to seek truth.
-Mansoora Hassan, multimedia artist(Washington DC; Lahore, Pakistan)

Since Duchamp's 'Readymades,' visual art is not easily defined and has, in fact, come to be seen as any human-generated creative act (usually pre- meditated but not always so) that causes an observable effect; in turn, a need is created to re-name that which used to be called fine visual art.
- Linda Thern-Smith, writer and visualartist, VA

Art is the string of favorite orange beads that I gave up for Lent when I was five years old.
- Sharon Stanczak, writer, Greenbelt,MD

Art is a mirror of the moving cosmos, cracked, sheared and shattered into a myriad fragments, each one original, each one subject to the laws of light and a preternatural longing for unity.
- Sarah Pleydell, writer, Washington DC

Art is a feeling which arises in the mind and heart and displays on paper as something larger than life.
- Jasmine Mokha, senior at Annandale HighSchool

Art is fundamentally a social act, a conversation with one's culture about what it is, has been, and could be.,,
- Paul Wolman, writer, researcher, Washington,DC

Art is the way we look at ourselves.
- Nancy Norman, video news editor, SilverSpring, MD

Art is the last grain of rice in a small dark bowl.
- David Lee, composer, filmmaker, healthcare worker with the homeless, D.C.

Art is what the rest is not!
-- Bala Chandran, TV producer & visualartist, McLean VA

We truly believe there is some essence in art that is something bigger than us, something nonhuman, and I believe elephants are as brilliant asus in this area.
- Alex Melamid,of Melamid & Komar

Art is because real life just isn't enough.
- Donna Coleman, painter, Washington,DC

Art is an aesthetically constructive act of independent recognition,rememberance, and response.
-Donald Davidson, painter, Washington,DC

The thing is that no one knows what art is.
- Alex Melamid, of Melamid & Komar

Art: the dialect of the senses.
- Chris Sandrolini, diplomat, WashingtonDC

A work of art is a compelling and inspiring gravity within whose field the creator and audience lose themselves to find that which lies between the Beauty and the Dread of life
- Richard Dana, visual artist, Washington,DC

Art is the thing that defines a big portion of who I am and what I think about, but rarely have time to do.
- Deborah Sokolove, visual artist, Washington,DC

Art is: WHAT?
- SuskenRosenthal and Benoit Maubrey, visual artists, Berlin, Germany

Art is an expressed feeling-- behind every work of art is a lovestory.
- Jim Spillane,Photographer, Mt. Jackson, Virginia

Art is a way of approaching the unknowable.
- MadalynMarcus, painter, Washington, DC

Art is a judgement of history.
- AlbertoGaitán, composer, Arlington, VA, USA

Art is any action performed by humans to imitate, alter or counteract the works of nature.
- Warren Criswell,painter, New York, NY

Art is a response to the question, "How do I fit into theworld?"
- BeverlyRess, visual artist, Silver Spring, MD

Art is making an image of one's celestial self.
- ThomasWalton, painter, Washington DC

Art is life.
- Eglon Daley,painter, Washington DC

[Art is] a making or doing of things that display form, beauty,and extraordinary perception.
- AmericanFederation of Arts

Art is what we think about keeping or looking at when we get rid of all the rest.
- Ruth Stenstrom,visual artist, Washington, DC

Art is like having the ability to remove oneself from the reality of life through the act of making it.
- Sheri Bartholow,painter, Arlington, VA

Art is feeling and intellect engaged in a dance of mutual seduction.
- Kathy Keler,painter, Washington DC

Art is anything that two people define as art: The being who creates it and the being who admires it as art.
- F. LennoxCampello, Art critic, Washington, DC

Art is the product of skills given to humans by the gods for the purpose of improving the conditions of life.
- Robert Revere,Photographer, Washington, DC

Art is insight transformed into peak experience
- Susan Burgess-Lent,Bethesda, MD

Art is a strange form of communication that makes a private search for meaning public, and uses formal techniques to create order out of the chaos of the world around us.
- Kim Roberts,poet, Washington DC