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Is Instagram Ruining Art? How Social Media Is Changing The Art World

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Social media is taking over the art world.

That's the message various New York City artists told CBS2's Elle McLogan.

On The Dig, several artists invited McLogan into their studios, where they revealed the unprecedented ways that the internet is influencing their work.

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"I definitely think that social media has made it possible for a lot of artists to access their audiences better, but I also think that the threshold for calling yourself an artist has become a lot lower," said fine artist and filmmaker Storm Ascher.

"What's exciting about the art scene in New York today, for me, is that there's multiple trends running at the same time," said multidisciplinary artist Vieno James. "For a while, I saw a lot of post-internet art where there's a lot of emoji." But now, emoji art and abstract painting both "stand strong and have an audience."

"Social media has definitely made the arts community larger," said painter Riad Miah. "Some galleries are finding their artists based on how many people are following a particular person. Certainly, galleries and artists are thinking more along the lines of how their work is going to be seen on social media. I know of one situation where the installation took about a day, but then the gallery spent three days with the lighting because they wanted to make sure that the lighting worked well for Instagram."

Painter and professor Leigh Behnke is teaching her students to work digitally, overlaying images culled from the internet. But her youngest students, in their early 20s, are less interested in digital pursuits "because it's second nature to them. They've grown up with Photoshop."

For Behnke's students, "It all happens on Instagram. I don't think they have Facebook accounts. They think [Facebook]'s really old-fashioned; it's something for their parents. They're all on Instagram, and I think shows get done on Instagram, people trade imagery. It's all happening there."

The internet can be a point of entry for art viewers as well.

"They say that nobody comes into a gallery anymore without having been online and seen the show first," Behkne said.

Is social media cheapening the way we experience art?

Miah isn't so sure.

"It's the subtlety of seeing something in person that makes a work art, whereas seeing something on social media is just an invitation to get the conversation started."

What's something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

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