What is a work of art? Does art for art's sake serve a purpose? Who or what influences the value of art?
For those who have ever mulled over these questions, then the penultimate exhibition in "The Great Debate about Art" series at Envoy Enterprises will certainly encourage more discourse and influence what people talk about when they talk about art.'
On view are pieces tackling different sections from Roy Harris' affecting essay "The Great Debate about Art." Most of the pieces in the exhibition are in black and white - perhaps reflecting the written text - but the perceptions raised are anything but black and white, with all of the pieces being as diverse and wide-ranging as the topics they are inspired by.
The viewer is plainly introduced to the great debate through Martynka Wawrzyniak's piece which appropriately takes its title from the essay. The book, encased in a glass frame, is covered with the artist's own excavated earwax, representing how she avoids listening to the outside world in order to remain true to her own creative process, (however blatantly gross) and raising the topic Harris discusses about art and idiocentrism.
A series of pieces by Anne Doran of silhouettes intersecting with cutouts of pornographic images, represents the subjugation and objectification of art. Dematerializing an object of art is one thing, but the artist shows that demoralizing an object of art is another thing altogether.
Ben Buswell's, Your Value is my Law, takes on two areas of Harris' conversation by being both a commentary on "anti-art" that was the hallmark of Dadaism and entertaining the idea of "I Spy" art. The viewer is presented with the colorless reverse side of a photograph with only the textured tracings of the photograph to view rather than the image itself.
Yet another piece by Erika Keck asks the question,"What or who defines art and subsequently places value on art?" In a quest to answer this question, the artist created work without the onus of making a sale. Various pieces of painted refuse are combined into a visually arresting form with the monition that the piece is not for sale and has no said "value." The question is not if it is art, rather if we can afford to create without it placing a moniker on it? Without looking for a scheme to make it what it already is, and seeing it for itself; itself for art's sake.
Overall, the pieces in this latest incarnation of The Great Debate about Art work to challenge the viewer intellectually and emotionally, almost as much as it does visually. Encouraging people to question art and commerce more seriously, as the answers are up for debate.
On view at Envoy Enterprises through June 7th
Every Friday, HuffPost's Culture Shift newsletter helps you figure out which books you should read, art you should check out, movies you should watch and music should listen to. Learn more