Why do we buy Art?
When we consider the number of households in Canada and the number of rooms in a home, it adds up to millions of pieces decorating walls. Most of it is reproductions, personal photos or a relative’s. It is fair to say only a marginal percentage is purchased original art, but what compels people to seek out original art? Why do we have it in our homes at all? This is a question that seems to have an obvious answer, doesn’t everyone have art? I wanted to understand what motivates and drives people to place it in their home and look at it daily. Is it a status symbol, family heirloom, décor, something inherited or is there a bigger need filled with owning art?
It’s all about Connections
When I asked the questions; why do you buy art and what is your favourite in your home? Most of the time I heard about connections to the artist: a family member painted it, a friend, a loved one, a mentor. The art itself was somewhat irrelevant. Sometimes this applied to the person who gave it to them, it really wasn’t about the subject. Though one could argue that the subject became interesting because of the emotion around the presenting of the gift.
When prodding further, art subjects almost always trigger a memory or inspiration for people and tell a story they identify with. A connection to the land, the architecture, the sunset, the colours, the texture seemed most common. Pretty well every answer came back to sparking an emotional tie to the piece to a person, thing or place. They evoked special memories, a treasure and keepsake, this lead to feelings of peace, contentment, nostalgia, love, inspiration and improved self-worth.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
It is good for your Health
There are studies out there that show that participating in art relieves stress. It can have a calming effect and can contribute to the overall well-being of a person and improve recovery times in some health situations. Some work is designed to be a social commentary and is intended to spark conversation. It does not always have a “calming effect”, it is subjective and can have different meaning for people, often different from the artist. That’s the beauty of it. It feeds the soul of the person observing it.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso
Owning art gratifies a desire rather than a need like clothing, furniture, technology etc. The desire to connect with a place, a memory, a feeling or person. The initial attraction may come from the impact, the craftsmanship, style, quality, colours, or connection with the artist, but ultimately the driving force behind a person making an art purchase is personal. It’s between the viewer and the art. Some believe that beauty (in the eyes of the beholder) opens the heart and feeds a deep well of contentment.
Fibre Art Connects people to Traditions
When I ask what connects people to textiles, it is almost always about family and lineage. The historical context is important for the traditional crafts like quilting, knitting, weaving, sewing. An aunt, grandmother, mother used to do it and it reminds people of that. There is a thread connecting to the people in their lives, a tactile relationship and an emotional tie to textiles. People are always compelled to touch my fibre art. Bringing nature and landscapes into contemporary fibre art bridges traditional craft and artistic imagery. It can be a very powerful way to engage with a viewer.
When I started quilting, one of my first quilts was a traditional sampler. I then moved on to geometric modern art quilts and now blend the landscape with the traditions of quilting like in the Offset Log Cabin quilt.
This speaks to the traditions not only of quilting but also the craft of log home building. They are never square! I love to work with clients that are interested in creating a keepsake in thread painting. Custom work is one of my favourite and most satisfying projects for so many reasons. Choosing an image from a memory like a family homestead, cottage or vacation to have represented in a commemorative quilt is one of my most common requests.
Connecting with Landscapes for Peace of Mind
I spoke in another post about mindfulness and fibre therapy, this was referring to doing it. I think the same really applies with observing, viewing and owning art. It gives us an opportunity to pause, enjoy, derive pleasure from what we are viewing. It’s worth reflecting on and taking the time to own art that speaks to us tol improve our overall well being.
Do you have thoughts about this? Let me know!