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"What part is it?"
I think the original part number was #AGV7720632.B... or you could say
that play in art is 17 parts fun and 83 parts serious... ;) you might
locate play as a foundational part, as well, in that a good portion of it
involves trying different things over and over, INTUITIVELY, until an
effective solution is found, relative to what is perceived as a UNIQUE
context. (One alternative approach would be an scientific one. Science is
not play, but, you can do art as science too... after which all the rules
which have lead to your achievement can be loaded into a computer to
produce more art in a similar vein and in a much more direct and efficient
"Is anything wrong in part or all of art being play?"
This is an ethical and moral question. The answer will depend on the
stances you take in such realms. My own stance, for example wouldn't
allow me to specify an absolute or universal answer to such a question.
Others might not have such constraints.
"Isn't it possible to learn through play?"
I think it is arguable that a major portion of human (and perhaps it
could be generalized to mammalian) learning occurs through play.
Certainly in the early years this appears to be so. Just remember that
play can be and appear serious (in my context at least) it is not
requsite that play look as if it were all fun, funny, or trivial.
"Can play touch and open alternative areas of thought and so increase
If creativity is what you are after. Compare play to simulation. Quite a
bit of of play involves simulation; tho it is more recognizeable as
"pretending." Creativity is nice and I won't say that using art to achieve
creativity (or any of a number of other possibilities such as cognition or
other instrumentalities.) is "wrong" per-se. It is possible to be very
effective proceeding along such lines. I suspect that the practice of art
or even aesthetics is likely to enhance any number of human processes and
to be instrumental in any number of situations --WITH or without intent
behind the act.
Increasingly I find art to be a VERY complex and rich entity. I now doubt,
very much, that we will ever really be able to reduce it to a definition;
simple OR complex (Tho trying is one heck of a lot of fun!). I don't
expect we will ever "get it." Art is something we, as humans, do. (I won't
get into other species here) I believe that art defines US far more than
we will ever be able to define IT. For that reason I believe that art is
a "good thing"; a very important thing for its own sake whether we fully
understand it or not.
I guess I'm starting to agree more and more with Vincent Lanier. I would
not have made such arguments a year or so ago. Come to intimate and
personal terms with art (and aesthetics) and the rest, creativity included,
will take care of itself without any help or intention on our part
either as artist or as teacher.
But if you want to or need to approach art in other ways and for other
reasons; well why not!
Anyway, before dismissing play read Huizinga --Homo Ludens--.