What makes art important?
Written by Laura Cambron on 29th March 2018
The Importance of Art: Creativity as a Basic Human Trait
What is art for you? Is it the way the sun shines through your window in the morning? Is it the graffiti (or street art) you pass on the side of a building? Is it the smiles of strangers that pass you on the street? How about your room, slightly messy, or finally clean?
Art is incredibly diverse, and there is no one way to explain what is encompassed by those three letters, nor is there one way to understand art: each person has a different perspective on life, a different background, and all of this shapes how they view the world around them, so there are at least as many ways of viewing art as there are people.
Art is a vital part of the human experience: it exists in every aspect of our lives, whether consciously or not. Intentional viewing and experiencing of art is important in order to cultivate a broader understanding of each other and the world around us, expressed with and without words. When you hear the word “art” a lot of things might come to mind: classical paintings in a museum, abstract sculptures in the parks, ancient cave drawings, spoken and written word, eclectic pottery, modern dance, theater. These are some of the physical representations of art, but there are many undercurrents in each piece that aren’t always as tangible. Many of the cultural aspects of a piece demonstrate the current climate of a community, the history, the desires, the struggles- it’s the vibrant soul of humanity, with all its ups and downs.
Every type of art that’s out there is valuable to the artist, the viewers, the participators- and it has the power to transcend language and connect people from around the world. Art museums are wonderful homes for recognized artists around the world and give people the opportunity to see in real life the works that have been so influential that they’re globally acknowledged. Smaller galleries and student art shows are great places to see local art, pieces done by people who live and work around you, who might share the same struggles or joys, who have their own unique take on the current state of affairs in your neighborhood, city, state or country. According to the dictionary, art is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects” (Merriam-Webster). This would indicate that the sun shining through your window is not art, nor is the stranger’s smile. But street art is true art, it is both intentional and creative, and a clean or messy room can be art because both states are intentional and creative. It is completely dependent on the eye of the observer.
As my favorite art teacher in elementary told me, and inscribed on my first real sketchbook that she gave me at the end of my 5th grade year, “art is not what you see, but what you make others see” and that is one the truest statements I have ever heard or read. We make art to bring attention to something, to a societal or a personal issue, to a trauma or great loss – art exists to translate emotion from something in our minds and hearts to something other people can see and feel too. Of course, they may not feel exactly what the artist feels, but that goes back to each person being unique, and discussions of our different views broaden our understanding of each other, and help us understand that differences, be they visible or not, are more often good things than they are bad.
Above all, art makes you think, it knocks you off balance, it makes you uncomfortable. That’s the art that is often considered most meaningful and timeless. There is plenty of art hanging on walls in homes and museums that reflect the skill of the artist, but they don’t make you ask any questions. They fail to make you think, and they fail to make you feel. Art exists to open our minds, to make people angry, to make people cry, to make people feel like they have strength, or like they can do anything if they really work for it. Art is powerful, and immensely influential; it exists in political movements and wars, in community gatherings, in schools, at home. It can take any form and show up in sometimes the most unexpected places (like the door of a bathroom stall, or the crayon drawings on the wall that your 2 year old made). Art can be loud, it can be subtle, it can shock and it can comfort – art makes you feel, and it makes you think, and a world without thought or feeling might as well be a world of computers. Can you even imagine a life without art? I can’t!