Does Art Reflect Culture or Does Culture Reflect Art?

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Julie Hobbs-Marin
Intercultural Communications
September 5, 2012

Does Art Reflect Culture or Does Culture Reflect Art?
As I first pondered this question the obvious answer seemed to be that art reflects culture. However, something didn't sound quite right. Then I realized that although I feel that art does reflect culture it goes deeper than mere reflection. There is an old song from 1968, performed by the "Supremes" called Reflections and a part of the lyrics is a perfect example of what I mean. "....Reflections of how life used to be....". A lot of what we have learned about some ancient cultures was through art. A great example being cave dwelling drawings.

We learned a lot about said cultures by studying the art or artifacts, each item being a piece, a small reflection of how life used to be. When put altogether we get a "big picture" of a culture.

Now that there is a reflection, a big picture, we can look at the most important part of culture, the artists. Each one, also a piece when put together form a culture, rather than just a reflection.

Below is part of the definition of "artist" that I got from the Merriam/Webster online dictionary that most pertains to this subject: Definition of ARTIST
4: one who is adept at something
I picked this one because it fits with my example of ancient cultures because so many of the artifacts we have found were made for everyday living by someone who was "adept at something" that by today's standards could be considered art. Many of the things people did to make a living was their art. For example; pottery makers, weavers, metal smiths, shoemakers, and woodworkers. Then there are ones who's art was purely decorative, such as jewelry makers, painters, and sculptors. There were also other forms that should be mentioned, such as song and dance. Below are two of ten parts of the definition of "art" that best pertain: Definition of ART

1: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation 
3: an...
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