I would suggest that everyone, that is all human beings, have an innate capacity and desire for making art. However, because of art’s conceptual slipperiness and the fact that it is so dependent upon culture, such a suggestion needs qualifying by taking a very broad definition of what is meant by making art. Amongst the people I have talked with about their creative endeavors are many who do not consider themselves to be artists, but exhibit all of the tendencies that artists often display: a passionate desire to create something that looks good and feels right – something that has particular significance, whether it be a birthday cake, a garden, or a hairstyle. In such activities, intuition, expression, skill and a consideration of aesthetic form – all attributes of artistic activity – are considered important.
What everyone needs is the opportunity to create and, when the occasion calls for it, to create something of aesthetic significance: that is, something that has meaning for the person who created it. The term that I prefer then is ‘creating aesthetic significance’. ‘Creating’ because of that word’s association with creativity and inventiveness, concepts that have a particular resonance when talking about human development. ‘Aesthetic’ because we are concerned here with the senses. ‘Significance’ because this is associated with meaning and ‘signs’ that are highly expressive and invite attention. I am not aware of any culture in the history of humankind that does not create aesthetic significance. If an individual person has not demonstrated the ability or desire to create something of aesthetic significance that is because of lack of opportunity. The urge to create aesthetic significance is facilitated through art, and where there are no opportunities to engage in art-making activities that urge is manifested in other – not always positive – ways.
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