Walker Art Center

Art Today

Schools and Teachers

Hybrid Art Forms

What is a hybrid?
A hybrid means something of mixed origin or composition that adds variety or complexity to a system. In science, a hybrid is the offspring of genetically dissimilar plants or animals, especially produced by breeding or grafting different varieties or species. In language, a hybrid word is one whose elements are derived from different languages. In an automobile, a hybrid combines an electric motor with a gasoline engine.

Given these definitions of the word hybrid, what would it mean to make a hybrid art form?

In art forms, hybridity could mean the blurring of traditional distinct boundaries between artistic media such as painting, sculpture, film, performance, architecture, and dance. It also can mean cross-breeding art-making with other disciplines, such as natural and physical science, industry, technology, literature, popular culture, or philosophy. Hybrid art forms expand the possibilities for experimentation and innovation in contemporary art.

Today’s artists are free to make art with whatever material or technique they can imagine. This freedom creates new opportunities to express ideas and concepts. It also opens up a number of challenges, choices, and decisions for artists:
Should I work to master a traditional art form or should I work to create innovative new art forms? Or should I do both?
Should I experiment with materials that are industrial or outside the scope of my studio if those materials seem to be the best way to express my artistic goals?
How can I define myself as an artist if I am shifting, combining, and recombining techniques from inside and outside the worlds of art?
Blurring boundaries, breaking rules, and creating hybrids occupies much artistic work today. However, making meaning in art—whatever tools, materials, or techniques are used—remains central to artistic practice. It is important for viewers to keep this in mind as they explore innovative art today.

Why is it better to have variety and complexity in art? or life?
Why is it good to experiment?
What is the difference between the world of art and real life?