Y’all may be starting to see why I hang around with Andy — he makes me think.
It seems to me that Art, like philosophy and many other disciplines, is an ongoing conversation. In philosophy, one philosopher makes an argument and others respond. The first philosopher reads, contemplates and makes another argument.
Art is similar, I think it’s a conversation between the artist and the viewer. The artist has a vision of the world, they communicate that vision and (ideally, I suppose) invites responses. Those responses are incorporated into the next work and so on.
I suppose this permits me to draw what debaters love to call a “bright line” between “art” and “not art” — for me, a piece of art invokes a response. It makes me think about the worldview of the artist and shows me how the artist sees the world or themselves in the world. The worldview doesn’t have to match mine, and often enough I find the worldview sad or distorted, but even sad or depressing conversations are conversations.
I do think there must be an element of thoughtful creativity in order for something to be considered art. If my cat sits on a piano and it turns out to spark a conversation, I can’t say that she created art. If someone accidentally spills paint on a canvas and it sparks a conversation about the aesthetics of the spill, I can’t say that it’s art. If I accidentally spill the right proportions into a pan and it tastes good, it isn’t art. In short, the person creating the work needs to intend to communicate something to the recipient.
In terms of who is an “artist”, I suppose it’s the case that I may consider someone an artist who doesn’t see themselves that way. They may “just” take photos, play music or cook good stuff — but, if their work is intended to prompt a conversation about the experience and share their view of the world with me, it seems to be close enough for me to call it art.
Edited to add: As I was typing this, Andy was making me a turkey sandwich. It was a work of art — although he’s not a sandwich artist :).