Art Is A Shared Story Of Emotion

“I’m not serving a menu. I’m serving a story. I’m serving my soul. I’m serving a conversation and I want you to talk back to me. I want you to dialogue with me.“
—Dominique Crenn

Within every artistic expression and experience, there are always many stories being told.

There is the story that the artist tells him or herself about who they are as a person, a creator, an artist, and as a member of society.

There is the story the artist tells him or herself about what their art means personally, what it means in the world, to the culture, and what it means to and for others with whom it will be shared.

There is also the story that the viewer, listener, reader, taster, experiencer, or witness tells about his or herself, about his or her culture, about the artist, and about the art itself when it is shared with them and when they share it with others.

Even the culture within or from which any piece of art is created tells its own stories about that art, but the art also tells a story about the culture it grew out of or was created in opposition to, and when foreign cultures experience this same art, a new, different story is told by and about these cultures, the artist, and the art itself.

Throughout all of this, the art is also telling many of its own stories. It is telling stories about individuality, relationships, creativity, conformity, rebellion, influence, preferences, possibilities limitations, clarity, confusion, joy, pain, beauty, ugliness, divinity, and profanity.

All of these stories are ultimately about one thing, however, and that is emotion. Art’s true story is told in the emotions it was created out of and the emotions it evokes in others. Art’s essence, its’ purpose, its’ most pure expression, manifestation, and experience is a feeling, an emotion, and, ideally, this emotion tells its own story while simultaneously transcending stories altogether.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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