What is the purpose of art?

How can the essence of man be preserved for more than a lifetime? While history tells us stories of those who came before us, art is what brings those stories to life. 

And if we look at this critically, most times, history is preserved as art through paintings, sculptures, music, poetry, and so on.

Just as Art preserves and serves as the custodian of the past, it also has the power to shape the future to something entirely different from the past. 

Now the question is, should an artist use his/her art to alter culture or to preserve it?

Culture is the way of life of a group of people.  Although the world is fast becoming a global village, day by day, culture is becoming more flexible, still,  people need an identity, something that symbolizes where they come from, something that reminds them of who they are, and that’s where art comes in. 

But as we all know,  the identity of a group of people, most times, doesn’t represent everyone in that group— this is where art is used to alter it, in form of protests (look at Beyoncé lemonade and woman empowerment).

It is important for art to be used to preserve culture and altering parts of it won’t benefits the people which it represents. But are these the only reasons why art should be created? If art is used for anything other than this, is it still art? Is an artist first responsible to the society he/she finds himself/herself in?  Does an artist have to make conscious art? Does an artist’s art always have to serve the society? 

Art is expression, art is how artists introduce themselves to the world. Whether artists wants the world to identify them with their culture, whether the artist wants the world to identify them as a propeller of change or social disturbance, or just a feeling that’s going to last for only five minutes, what is important is that the artist is expressing something. And apart from being a form of expression, art is authentic; it is truthful to what it represents, and most importantly truthful to the artist who created it. 

About Banji Coker 157 Articles
Banji Coker is a Nigerian poet, writer and spoken word artist. He is the author of two poetry compilations, Just seventeen and October feelings.

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