Meaning of Art or Meaningful Art?

"hallowed" - acrylic on canvas by crystal rassi 2010. part of a triptic at ebeneezer baptist church, saskatoon, sk.

"hallowed" - acrylic on canvas by crystal rassi 2010. part of a triptic at ebeneezer baptist church, saskatoon, sk.

A while back I received an email from someone I have never met before. Sandra Fehr began to tell me of her story. Recently her family was in an accident and her son, Mark received severe brain damage. As a mother of two young sons myself, my eyes began to swell up already.

Backing up a little more,  a church we had attended requested a large painting commission from me. I was to paint the trinity as a triptic. I had a hard time narrowing down how to represent the Father but came up with a simple scene of a boy sleeping on the shoulder of the Father. You can't see the face of the Father, but He is illuminated, casting light on the boy.

Sandra attends this church. She told me that the first time she saw the painting after the accident, she found comfort, feeling that Mark was in the arms of the Lord and that he was being taken care of. To her the boy in the painting looked just like Mark so for Sandra, the painting gave her hope that her son would be okay. Mark is recovering slowly.

Is this the meaning of art or is it simply meaningful art. A little while ago Keith Bond wrote and article called "Advancing Art for Art's Sake" where he paraphrases another article by Rose Fredrick who states that fine art should advance for art's sake. Fine Art should "further the movement and evolution of art; to leave a lasting impression on society". Furthermore, it should be "honest" and "advance society".

My painting of the Father may never reach "society" (to which I understand as, the world), and I have not developed a new style or new technique with this painting to which may advance society, but if a work of art can affect one person, is that enough? It's her world being affected. It has honestly and positively left an impression on her. What would art be if we as artists only painted for ourselves? Is this the meaning of art? Should we as artists always strive to paint meaningful art that affects others positively? How does society advance if not one person at time?

Sandra's story inspires me to keep painting and drawing meaningful work. Commissioned portraits may not be my main focus in art, but I will do them, because very time, somebody cries. In a good way. Because it captures a memory of loved ones. It becomes a special connection people can look upon along with photographs and videos. They are each it's own version of that person. Will those personal images advance society in any way? Well, if it inspires one person to live a happy, healthy life where they can inspire and help others, then, yes....perhaps it has advanced society. But will society look upon the image itself and be inspired to change in any way? Probably not. Should I really care?

What are your thoughts on meaningful art or the meaning of art?