I would not be writing this if I had another way of knowing the answer. Unfortunately, I cannot talk to anyone due to quarantine. Even though I have thought a lot about it, I am still unsure. My question is this: "Is art bad karma?" To preface, I am a Theravadin woman. As you know, women cannot be ordained. So, I try my best to follow the monastic rules but stay outside of a monastery. I would like to follow the strictest Buddhist teachings. Now, I will write what I have thought about art.
Firstly, the Buddha does not speak much about householders in comparison to monks. However, the popular consensus seems to be that he allows laypeople to have their cultures. Yet, different countries also seem to have different monastic cultures, too, despite being ordained. Secondly, part of this culture is Buddhist art like sculptures and narrative tapestries. Thirdly, since the Buddha allows written works, narrative art may be permitted as a form of visual communication like writing and the Buddha's own speech can be poetic.
Recently, I have promised myself that I would finish an art project and then move onto a fully religious life. However, I have repeatedly been stopped from progressing by a great pain in my heart at the prospect of never doing art again. Music is meant to seduce people with melodies. Likewise, acting is lying to arouse extreme, perhaps negative, emotions in people. Dance is the most lustful artistic field. I took the same attitude to visual art, seeing it as being influenced by lust and anger.
However, in my art (which I have felt guilt for doing due to my opinions of it), I have slowly realised that I do not have lustful or wrathful intentions. My art depicts my culture (Japanese): marriage, funerals, temples, mythological figures, daily life, mountains, etc. I wanted to preserve the cultural narrative for my own peace of mind, rememberance, meditation, and future generations. Considering all that I have said and seen about culture and art and Buddhism and karma, is art bad karma? If someone has a specific quotation on this, please let me know. Any comments, I appreciate.