Art is meant to transcend social, cultural and religious boundaries but is that possible in the twenty-first century, where the disparity in social classes is eventually forcing people to drift away from the appreciation and more importantly, creation of art? Will the twenty-first-century witness artists, poets, and musicians gain recognition along the lines of some of history’s most celebrated people; Mozart, Bach, Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Bukowski, Michelangelo and the like? For a society where many consider pornography art, do we even deserve to see artistic genius at its peak?
The sad realization hits us like a truck of bricks that someone who cannot even afford a loaf of bread for supper, won’t be seeking out music, or sculptors or writing poetry by the shore. People can’t even afford to study art even more, let alone indulge in it for a brief moment or two. Most students from low-income backgrounds are likelier to focus on selecting a major that will put food on the plate. Income and status is their main concern which is why only students from the upper middle class or the elite are choosing to study the arts; they are free to choose a major based on interest, rather than possible career opportunities.
The wealthy may be able to afford taking time off to visit art galleries, sway to the rhythm of the orchestra in a concert hall, or critique the reenactment of a play put on by some company, but what of the Common Man? Or the poor man who is forced to work as many hours a day his body allows him, and will never know the genius of Michelangelo, never stare up at the Sistine Chapel and simply breathe it all in? The poor man whose dreams of buying a new set of paints was crushed by the rumbling of his child’s stomach.
What is sadder than the poets, the writers, the sculptures, the dancers too busy making a living that they have cast aside the pleasures of creation? People like Rupi Kaur, Damien Hirst or Nobuyoshi Araki, the last of whose pictures are too pornographic to be shown here.
Then, there’s Charles Bukowski, who hated his work so much that when offered a low wage writer’s job he wrote to his friend, “I have one of two choices–stay in the post office and go crazy…or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”