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Impart: local artist Salvador Jimenez believes art brings people together

Local artist Salvador Jimenez answers a few important questions about art. He argues that the feelings art instills in people creates community and propels action.
Salvador Jimenez in his studio.

Salvador Jimenez in his studio. /Matthew D Gubancsik

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This article is part of a series called “Impart” which asks local and national artists questions about art to preface ArtPrize and begin the conversation.

Read other artists' answers: 

Thomas Hammer

Gil Lelazhe Jariq

Melanie Manos

Nate Otto

Consuelo Poland 

Mark Reigelman

"I'm not who you think I am" by Jimenez.

"I'm not who you think I am" by Jimenez. /Courtesy of Salvador Jimenez

"Ciudadanos Desechables" by Jimenez. English translation is: disposable citizens.

"Ciudadanos Desechables" by Jimenez. English translation is: disposable citizens. /Courtesy of Salvador Jimenez

Impart seeks to preface ArtPrize by asking artists essential questions about art. 

Salvador Jimenez is a an artist based in Grand Rapids whose works often deal with socio-political issues. He does work in photography, graphic design, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation and collage. Jimenez is "an artist and an activist that believes in the power of art."

What is art?

"At first glance this question seemed very easy to answer. I’ve been practicing different art forms professionally for more than 10 years. I studied graphic design, I’ve taught various art and design courses for over six years, I have curated art shows, I’ve traveled all over analyzing art and I’m currently an M.F.A. candidate at Kendall College of Art and Design. I should be able to answer these questions, no problem. However, when I’m confronted with this question my mind goes black and I can only think of words that describe art such as expression, personal, emotion, experiment, discovery and the list goes on.

Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, does a better job describing what I attempt to say, in this quote from his 1896 essay titled What is Art?

“Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity,” he says.

That last sentence is the one I identify with the most. We are surrounded by art. We interact with art and design on a daily basis. The kind of art I want to talk about is the one that links individuals together."

What is the purpose of art?

"The purpose of art is to engage, connect, transmit, break boundaries and share. Based on Tolstoy’s theory good art is an artists’ feelings clearly expressed with the sincerity of the artist. When an artist can accomplish to touch another individual with her/his art and make her/him think, question or have a response—that is art. As an artist I feel I have the responsibility to address the issues that affect my community and to create awareness and propose actions through my art."

Why is art important?

"Art is important for many reasons. Art makes you think, contradict, interrogate, problem solve, create, connect, communicate and the list can go on but most importantly it makes us feel. Art adds humanness to our life."

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