Art: Capturing the Human Experience

Art is representative of everything that has to do with the human experience. More specifically, art is anything that expresses the ideas and feelings indicative of the human experience in an emotionally and/or aesthetically  intriguing way. For this reason, art is wholly important. While centuries have passed from the renaissance and decades from early civil right movements, art captures the emotions and ideals of those times and preserves it. The significance of art is that it allows us to relive and record aspects of our own experiences. Even today when viewing a performance or visiting an art gallery, we see aspects of someone elses human experience. However, not everyone’s experience is always preserved through art, which is the problem I have with institutions like the Brooklyn Museum.

Art institutions hold a very important purpose. Art itself captures emotion, and social aspects of the past and present. The job of these art institutions is to hold together frameworks of human experiences, preserving them, and emphasizing their significance by displaying them to the public. That being said, I don’t believe that art institutions actually do this, at least not entirely. Idealistically, art institutions should seek to capture the human experiences of artists from all walks of life, and display art that evokes meaning to everyone- class, race, and gender be damned. But unfortunately art institutions are run by people who have their own visions of what is important enough to be displayed and preserved. Often times the artwork is not indicative of the artist community as a whole, but instead represents the artistic ideals of the institutions that choose to display them.

When I think about art today and how it is represented, I wonder if I will have to wait fifty years for my experiences to be represented in an art institution. When will the featured artists in New York City art institutions for example, be a representation of the diversity of the city as a whole? Feeling as though I have to wait in line for my human experience to be relevant is frustrating. When I visit an art institution, I want to see an artists work who I can relate to. But perhaps the absence of this type of art is actually part of the bigger picture of the human experience. We live in a country where in 1964, only fifty years ago,the Civil Rights Act was passed to end segregation in public places and ban employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin. Fifty years later we are still battling racism and seeking to end gender pay gaps. Maybe when the playing field is completely equal, our human experiences will become more important. The art institutions that will have turned a blind eye to our truths, our lives, and our stories, will scramble to find the human experiences that you and I are making right now. Perhaps the Brooklyn Museum will have a whole wing highlighting the beauty arising from the “ghettos” it neighbors. Fifty years from now, maybe the graffiti we desperately try to erase and the subway dancers we try to oppress will instead be displayed as urban heroes, and their artwork a symbolic rose emerging from the cracks of the concrete jungle that is the city.

Artwork in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

– Jalissa Quigley


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