Art plays a very important role in our society. Most individuals enjoy art of some form, whether it is a painting, an opera, or a carefully crafted statue. Reactions to art also vary from person to person. People may argue over whether a piece of art is inherently good or bad, beautiful or ugly. It is a common assumption that art is subjective. People judge art based on their own definition of beauty. This gives the art a certain aesthetic value to the viewer. Most of those who view art do so for this purpose only; once they have found something that looks "good,” most are ready to check out. However, I would agree with those who aspire to look deeper into art, those who believe that there is meaning behind art, and that the artist deliberately incorporates this meaning into his or her work. What a piece of art means can often times be more important than how it looks. Instead of simply judging whether a piece of art is aesthetically pleasing or not, the observer should react to the messages authors send through their creations. This type of reaction to art is much more complicated and undefined. When reacting to the meaning of a piece of art, the basic values, beliefs, and ideology viewers posses affect how they see the art. Two people looking at the same painting in a museum may see two entirely different pictures. Native Americans will react to a painting of a dead buffalo differently than a Yugoslavian because the history of these two cultures is so different. A person's reaction to art cannot be simplified into aesthetic preferences. Fundamental cultural beliefs, customs, and ideology greatly affect how individuals react to art.
In "Mother Earth Father Sky,” a Navajo sandpainting, Alfred Dihja paints a visual representation of the sky and the earth on two cattle. Feathers decorate the painting and the colors are mostly orange, black, and white. When I originally observed this painting I did not think it was very good art, I thought it was boring.