When I was in Juneau, Alaska last summer I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful exhibit of native masks in the Sealaska Native Corporation Gallery. As I perused this captivating collection, I stopped and read an informational plaque on the wall. I was struck while reading it that the SE Alaskan native cultures do not have the word “art” in their language.
When I returned home I researched further and found that many native cultures worldwide do not have the word “art” in their language. In Bali the word for artist and human being are the same. According to Aviva Gold on her blog “Painting from the Source”
……if we are all art makers by virtue of being human, why would we need a special word for art maker? And if “Art” is not a thing, but rather a natural way of life, connection with nature, daily worship, breathing, just being in the moment, then what use is there for the word “Art”? Art and living are the same. Art is complete living.
What a contrast to our modern culture where most are spectators to the arts. We go hear music rather than play, go to art exhibits & revere artists as some kind of alchemists that should be worshipped. We have been removed from our tribal nature, sectioned off into individuals on our own devices, so connected, yet so separated.
There is No Word for Art
There is no word for art in their language
It is infused in the fabric of their culture
Adorning their bodies and homes
With sacred symbols
On baskets, clothing, totems, rocks
It is the voice of spirit expressing
Woven within The Peoples’ memory
Passed down through generations
Around fires on cold winter nights
The People share their stories in the singing of songs,
And in the dancing of dances
While the drums beat
The children watching intently
There is no word for art in their culture
Here everyday items, masterpieces
By everyday people
For they are all artists
They know no other way