Regarding Lawrence's question, "What is Art", my personal definition of art
is an activity that allows us to make connections with the world around us
and communicate / express our own impressions of what we find there. All of
the other pieces that have gone into defining art (art history, visual
studies, theories, 'isms', etc.), certainly help to flesh out what else art
has allowed us to view, understand, interpret and generally find meaning in
that involves the human experience. That simple (or not) enterprise of
creating is an intrinsic part of helping us (and our students), to get in
touch with our own humanity.
That is about as simply stated and basic as I think it gets.