It is difficult to define a work of art because the perception of it is highly subjective. But for me, the most powerful and beautiful works of art cannot be bought, hung on a wall or placed on a pedestal.
In the area where I live, people frequently construct little shrines along the roadside in the spot where a loved one died. There is a surprisingly large number of these markers throughout my city. Today, when I was riding my bike, I saw one that was more impressive than most that I’ve seen.
It was a powerful thing, and it made me sad. I wasn’t sad for the youth who had lost his life at this location (I had never known him); I was sad because the beauty which stood before me screamed of the powerful emotions that had been invested in its creation.
It was not created for profit; rather, it had been created as a result of a tremendous loss. It was not created for the purpose of adulation — only for commemoration. It will not stand the test of time, nor will it ever be re-created or re-envisioned by historical societies.
The flowers will soon wither, and the city’s public works employees will soon clear it away as they would random debris. And only the family and friends whose pain resulted in this work of beauty — as well as any random passersby — will ever know that it existed…for, oh, such a brief period of time.