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Art Perception and Ways of Seeing


Different people will describe this term in their own different ways of seeing, thinking, and understanding. What people see or describe to be art today may not be what it was sometime back. Many of the things that were done sometime back we describe to be art today e.g. a painting of a lady, a decorated church window, a molded Chinese clay cup, etc, may not have been art to those people who actually did them but something else or the result of a certain expression. These objects may have been called different names other than art.

Art does not have an exact definition. It is much easier to say that art is the way one comes up with something e.g. a picture, painting, sculpture, design, etc. today, many things are described as art. Some people will describe music as an art and that is why musicians are also called artists.

Music is an art because it is brought about by one’s imagination and creativity. Music is as diverse as the people themselves. Just like a drawing or a painting, music is an expression of one’s feelings or what is going on in the environment. One can be able to get a glimpse of who the artist is by listening to their music and one can even know the type of situation the person is in (Harris 36).

Perception, comparison, and contrast

An example of Celine Dion’s song ‘Because you loved me’ was written to her husband for he had greatly encouraged and supported her. ‘We are the world’ by the American singers was sung when Africa was going through a hunger period, etc. These are just but two out of many other singers who have sung songs as a result of how they felt or how the situation was.

A piece of art displayed somewhere can present or attract different comments from the different types of people looking at it. Let’s take an example of the way the church windows are made using different colored windows of what is known as the collage style. Some take it to be a great and way of adding beauty to the otherwise plain church. It is also seen as a way of communicating certain messages as there are pictures of Mary, Jesus, the Angels, Jesus in a manger, Jesus on the cross, etc. In some African churches, the worshippers have personalized it and put the pictures of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as Africans.

The same mosaic windows have been viewed as a way of defining the church. In Kenya, a lot of controversies have come about as the windows in the P.C.E.A (Presbyterian Churches of East Africa) churches are said to have idol images. Some Kenyans see the images as a form of devil worship and have actually left the church and started their own denominations. This was actually one of the reasons that led to the emerging of many denominations in the making of the early church in Kenya.

Let’s take another example of the sculpture of a beautiful naked lady. This can also bring different comments and evoke different emotions from the different people looking at it. Some people may look at it and say that it is meant to portray the beauty of a woman both inside and outside. Some may say that it was made for the purpose of showing how Eve of the Bible was before she ate the fruit, some may say that the sculptor had a particular person in mind and just wanted to make the sculpture in their remembrance and some may say that it is a sign of immorality and is a way of showing how a woman is used to expose off her body to attract attention.

In the movie Titanic, Jack Dawson (Leonardo Dicaprio) makes a drawing of Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) when she is naked with just a necklace. If that drawing can be seen by someone who has not watched the movie, am sure it can derive a lot of different comments. As we see in the movie, Rose just wants Jack to make a drawing of her with the beautiful necklace she was given by Brock Lovette (Manguel 78).

The good thing about art is that different views are welcome depending on the individual. An artist only needs to make the art and present it to the people who appreciate it in accordance with their views, perception, and feelings. Today, art pieces that were done some centuries ago by famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci go for millions of dollars. The painting Mona Lisa also brings draws different comments from the different people looking at it. Nobody has exactly known what the artist had in mind when he made it.

There are people who put a lot of value in art and can spend a fortune buying a piece of artwork or buying a musician’s album while there are those who won’t even take a second glance at a piece of art or waste their time listening to any music.

Acting and movie making is also known as art. This is because there is a lot of creativity and use of one’s imagination to come up with the movies, films, plays, etc. that we see and watch. The actors and actresses are known as artists. All these may not have been considered art in the past. People may have looked at them and named them something different but not necessarily cooking (Berger 16).

In art, everyone’s opinion is correct. This is because it is derived from one’s perception and their way of thinking. Poetry is an art in that they express their feelings in writing. One may read a poem written by a poet and get a totally different meaning from what the poet actually felt or intended to pass across.

Use of art

In the past, people used art to pass across a message, express their feelings entertain, decorate, and simply for the day to day use. For example, clay items such as pots, spoons, and other types of utensils were made for the day to day activities. Paintings and drawings were made for decoration and would also convey a certain message that would be educative or entertaining. Music was used as a way of entertaining and educating, poetry was used as a way of communicating a message and even educating and so on.

This has not changed even today. Artists still use art as a means of communication and entertainment. Apart from all this, it has been used as a means of earning a living. As mentioned earlier, some of these pieces cost a fortune. Theatres are packed to the fullest especially on weekends as people watch the plays being presented and they pay to watch this. Musicians like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Beyonce Knowles, Kirk Franklin, just to mention but a few are worth millions of dollars (Tolstoy & Nikolayevich 102).

Actors and actresses like Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Scriptwriters, and film directors like Mel Gibson are to mention but a few who earn a living through art. One major disadvantage about the art of which it also poses as an advantage is that it can completely be interpreted completely different from what the artist intended it to be. This is a disadvantage because a message that an artist intended to pass across may not go through e.g. in the case of a sculpture of a naked woman, the sculptor may have intended to show the beauty of a woman.


Let’s all embrace art no matter our different views and perception.

Works cited

Berger, John. Ways Of Seeing. London: Penguin Books, 1972.

Harris, Jonathan. Art History: The Key Concepts. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Manguel, Alberto. Reading Pictures: What We Think About When We Look at Art. New York: Random House, 2000.

Tolstoy, Leo, Tolstoy Count Leo Nikolayevich. What is Art? New Jersey: Bibliolife, 2009.


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