OSAD Lecture: What Is Art?

December 17, 2015

“What is art?” That was the subject of a recent lecture offered by Olivet School of Art and Design Director Zimou Tan.

The lecture was open to all Olivet University students, especially those interested in learning more about art, at the school’s Riverside campus.

Tan, an award-winning artist who specializes in portraiture, created the lecture to show students how life is art and that art is a way of communication.

“Art is something straight from your heart, to express with honest passions,” Tan said. “Art is like food. People can put anything into their mouth and call it food, but the differences are, is it nutritious to the body, or poison to the body? Therefore, there is good art and bad art. It is not the technical part of the process; it is the motivation behind the creation.”

During the lecture, Tan used examples of images from Western countries to share ideas with students and open their minds to see different types of arts. He also took students on a simplified art history time traveling tour, from the stone age to the present. Students saw how much art had changed with each time period and how it exposed how much or how little faith impacted society in the West.

“Art should comfort the soul of the audiences,” Tan stated. “Many artists used art to represent themselves, through the human perspective, rather than God’s."

Art, he added, is one of the most direct ways to communicate with people, to their hearts. Tan encouraged the Christian students to utilize art to touch those who are in pain and in a way that would point people to God. Other than the Gospel, art can be food for the soul, he said.

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