Tania Dibbs

What constitutes art?

I have been searching, groping, questioning, and it is uncomfortable. Growth never feels great What constitutes a piece of art? Formally there is texture, color, line, value, space, composition, form….also there is style, intent, content, audience etc. My assistant Jenna reminded me that it took me many years to become competent at realism and I am in another learning curve now.  She suggested taking out a few of the obvious artistic elements one thinks about. I like this idea. If a teacher tells you to write a paper, you can easily get stuck thinking broadly of the overwhelming options of things to write, while if the teacher told you to write about, say, the human hand you can think of a lot of angles:  its mechanics, evolution, what it creates, sign language, etc. etc.

I have been taking out some elements.  Here is what I have so far.  It feels good. I love this series for the questions it poses and  for its spontaneity. I have 18 of them now that hang together, all of them showing something that was there but that is now almost completely covered.








  1. I know exactly what you mean. It’s easy to doubt, question, and grope for answers, but I find it’s not until you let go, and let what feels good and what feels right be your guide that you can wind up doing your best work.

    1. I was just listening to a story on NPR the other day about Steve Callahan, a shipwreck survivor who spent 72 days on a life raft and was a consultant on the Life of Pi movie. After surviving that years ago, he is now faced with Leukemia. He said in the interview that life is a process of letting go. I thought that was so interesting. What a hard thing to do. It took being lost at sea and fighting leukemia for him to do it.

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