It might seem like a simple concept, but it’s one that’s come up several times in conversations we’ve had about our mural installations lately, so it’s appropriate to pose the more fundamental question: What, exactly, is art?

Art is a lever into the mind. Art is a vehicle. Art is a passion. Art is an expression. Art is the basis of humanity and a shout out into the night at the higher power that we are here, and we love being here. Art is a connector. Art is a conduit to the divine. Art is a representation of the individual. Art is sacred. Art is color, and art is love.

Art is whatever you want it to be. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder — and what you see, what you interpret, what you feel by looking at a piece is a completely different experience than that of another person.

The most fascinating aspect of art, for me, is its ability to unpack the hidden potential in a human being. It ignites the imagination and fires off the dusty pistons of ingenuity that is inherent in all of us. It also sparks a fire in the dark and triggers that most difficult of emotions to keep at the front of our minds: hope.

My wife Kristin Luna and I have traveled the world together as students, journalists and intrepid explorers for 14 years now. We’ve discovered forgotten corners of the United States in search of interesting stories and plumbed anew major cities around the world because we love unearthing new things and, most of all, we love the magic that manifests itself when an individual is allowed creative freedom. The depths of the mind and the fascinating glimpses we all receive from the process of nurturing the expression of an individual is invaluable to society and has been cherished since the dawn of civilization.

Art is power. Art alters reality and art changes the environment. Art drives interest in an area, art ignites economic development, art spawns creative improvement, and art shows visitors that we care about our community.

Art is all around us and permeates the things we look at every day: The shape of a lamppost, the feel of a cell phone, the delicious curve of a hot rod, the color of our buildings, the texture of floors, the contour of our roads and the taste of our food are all results of an individual decision that circles back to art.

Art is all around us. The key to appreciating it hinges not on understanding the content of the art itself, but on the creator who birthed it in the first place.

Scott van Velsor is an artist of words and photographs and is the co-founder of Odinn Media and DMA-events, as well as vice president of the Tullahoma Art Center.

[Editor’s Note: Recent mural installations include the Good of the Hive honey bee project on a Manchester greenway bridge and the addition of Bertha Baillet the octopus to the southern wall of the Tullahoma Art Center.]