Blog: The Oxymoron (Part 3) – The Standard of Ethics is Subjective

Christine Alfery

Posted on May 15 2018

Goddess of Light by Christine Alfery

Faith, instinct, intuition, revelation, feelings, taste, urges, wishes, whims. Today it seems the ultimate standard of ethics is subjective whim. Art can be anything and everything. The question becomes but whose whim: one’s own or society’s. Ethical content in an art object today is not based on: reason, the mind and reality.

So how can one change how one values art objects? How can one think differently about the values in art? The first thing I ask as an artist about to create a work of art, who benefits from the values I will be placing within this work? For whom, do I create the work for myself or for others? My goal, is not to create it for others but for my own pure pleasure of creating it. Is that realistic? Today it is for me, but there have been many years where I had to jobs just to have the money and time to create this pure pleasure. To have this selfish aesthetic moment. My goal when working for others was always to be able to have that selfish aesthetic moment. What happens after the process is another topic not to be covered here.

So I create work that I value. I am very selfish about it. What is the alternative for whom I create for and have these values for? To not have them at all – to not have them exist. No I choose to create them for myself and if others enjoy them wonderful. The existence of art depends on it’s sustaining itself if it can’t it will cease to exist – which is arts current state in the sandbox. It is only the concept of “art” as subjective that keeps art alive, it is art as subjective, unique, individual that creates the value in art. In order for art to survive it is imperative that we change how we understand the value, the moral, and ethical principles in art – we need to think differently about this subjectivity. It cannot come from another only from the self. The artist cannot rely on others to tell him, an artists senses will not tell automatically what is good and what is evil, what will benefit their work or endanger it, what goals they should pursue and what means will achieve them. There is no happy meal here, no instant gratification. The artist has to discover the answers to these questions for themselves. And it does not happen automatically.

For example when I struggle with a work I have to discover through the process of creating what works. The possibilities are endless. But my survival as an artist and the survival of art as a whole requires conceptual values gotten from conceptual knowledge and this again is not automatic.

The artist needs to think, to use their own minds, not the minds of others. Example, when I put the first watercolor wash on a blank surface, I let the colors flow and become but if I left the work in this state there would be no definition to it. The abstract flow of color is unlimited, but the colors need organizing, and to move from an abstraction to a concrete conceptual thought. This requires the artist, me to think, and to play, to identify, to grasp, to integrate and what I have identified with what is happening in the painting. This is not easy – this is a ton o

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