As a writer, I know all too well sometimes we’re not put on the same level as oil, acrylic, sketch or sculpture artists. However, all art stems from the same two places: the heart and the hand.
Of course, MFAs in art often include an English or writing department, but there still seems to be a chasm between the two major folds of “art,” both in the academe and professional realms. After all, not many museums have flourishing exhibits focusing on the written word.
The one exception is calligraphy. It’s perhaps the closest blend between fine arts and written art. Even in the UK, the original Beowulf manuscript, the oldest English-language text in existence, was moved from the museum to the British Library. How can written art be promoted to the level of fine art, or are the differences too vast? Here’s a look at attempts that have been made.
Poetry in Motion
Many cities have attempted a movement like Poetry in Motion, featuring short poems or snippets of literature pasted inside subway systems and buses. While it’s a nice thought, it also somewhat cheapens the experience. This might be bordering on elitist, but besides the irony of beautiful words scrawled across a tired bus, environment counts for a lot. Stunning portraits are on display in flawless galleries, and poetry is delegated to bus stops.
When I was in graduate school, both in the US and the UK, there was a very large barrier between the fine and written arts. In fact, I can’t recall a single course that blended the two. I imagine everyone missed out on a lot by keeping these two camps separate. That’s extended into my professional career, with only a tiny percentage of literary journals I’ve been published in also featuring fine art.
Start at an Early Age
The separation of the arts begins in pre-school, with separate classes for finger painting and for reading time. As a child, I took calligraphy classes and adored those more than my other fine art classes combined. Unfortunately, calligraphy has a very niche appeal and it’s not studied at all in most schools or universities. Instead, what’s drawn and what’s written are kept segregated, intended to appeal separately to different students.
Perhaps encouraging a blending of all arts from an early age will make it accessible to more people. Similar to PA web site design, there are endless possibilities out there. Drawing a scene from a favorite book, or writing a short story to go along with a drawing, are all natural extensions for art/lit teachers. The encouragement of all arts, together, might lead to a better melting pot and even more artists branching out.