“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”
~ Edward Hopper
Art, in its many forms, exists in every community, every culture, and every country. Art has been created since time began, evidenced in cave paintings and rock art, and in today’s world we know that art can be a major economic force, yet we continue to question the worth of art.
Often I have heard someone dismiss a work of art by saying, “I could do that” or “I don’t understand it”. Perhaps not placing value on something that we ourselves could make or expecting things to be easily understood speaks to the loss of thoughtfulness and creativity in our world and only magnifies our need for the arts.
Here are five reasons why I believe we need art:
1. Art is a Natural Human Behavior: Creating art is a primal behavior. Children, the world over, instinctively make. Every culture has art. Like language and laughter, art is a fundamental human behavior. Put very simply, art is a part of who we are. We need art because it makes us complete human beings.
2. Art is Communication: Art, like language, is a medium to express ideas and to share information. Art offers us a method to communicate what we may not necessarily fully understand or know how to express. Art helps us to share thoughts, ideas and visions that may not be able to be articulated any other way. We need art to have a full range of expression.
3. Art is Healing: Creating or experiencing art can relax and sooth us or it may enliven and stimulate us. The process of creating art engages both the body and the mind and provides us with time to look inward and reflect. Experiencing art also gives us reason to think and be reflective or may inspire us to get up and dance. Art provides a release, a place for reflection and away to engage our whole selves. .We need art to keep us healthy.
4. Art Tells Our Story: Art is a history lesson, an historical record, a preservation of culture, and an autobiography all in one. Art documents events and experiences and allows us a richer understanding of history. Art reflects cultural values, beliefs and identity and helps to preserve the many different communities that make up our world. Art chronicles our own lives and experiences over time. We need art to understand and to share our individual and shared history.
5. Art is a Shared Experience: The creation of art is a collective activity. Art forms such as dance, theatre and choir all require a group of artists and an audience. Even the solitary painter or poet relies upon the craft of the paint-maker or book-binder to help create art. Art offers us a reason to come together and share in an experience. We need art to keep us connected.