I remember sitting with one of my advisors at University and I had expressed experiencing a feeling of vapidity about making my art. I felt being an artist had no purpose, and was almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I wanted to be certain my work was important, that it was going to add to the world, making it a better place. My advisor immediately understood what I was getting at, and completely empathized. We discussed this at length, and our exchange helped me simply to address my feelings openly. It helped to clarify things and to realize that most of us have moments like this, where we question our art in relation to having a higher purpose, and the reason for making art within the world.
Hearing this, some might say in response, well if you feel this way, why don't your find something that will give you a deeper sense of purpose. The fact is I rarely feel my art is purposeless, nor about being an artist. For that matter, I know I can't help being an artist, or living life creatively. I wouldn't have it any other way. Being an artist has become my vocation.
Evey artist reaches a point in their life when they feel this vapidity about their art and being an artist. Perhaps the reasons many artist do feel purposeless is related to the way we are valued of not valued in society. Art is not considered a necessity like doctors, lawyers, mechanics etc. Only when artists reach a certain elite level within the 'art world ' do they get recognition and are the given a status, or, after the have left this mortal coil. It is a sad state of affairs. Art and artists are absolutely necessary, and contribute greatly to the world in countless ways, personally, professionally and economically.
It may seem to some artists to be a rhetorical question, why make art, because we know very well the essential reasons we are artists. Often though, we are not really good at clarifying this. I think it is so important the as artists we know how convey this in a discourse, so we can change and even enlighten those would just don't understand art or artist's or why it is so vital to life.
Today I found a great blog post by Alyson Stanfield who has addressed this issue of an artist's purpose and the value of art.