On Art

When my thoughts are confused and slippery, producing no friction as I reach for them, I listen to music, write, or draw. This emotional release is art. This stimulation of the senses is needed not only to release bridled emotion, but to reveal it as well. The process of making art allows one to dwell on thoughts and to bring the unconscious into the conscious. The arts are a form of therapy that help to maintain a state of calm and order in an almost unnoticeable manner. Artists are able to sift through their thoughts during the creative process, often in an absentminded manner. It is why authors and playwrights write. It is why visual artists paint or draw. It is why composers and musicians make music. It is why dancers get lost in sound. The arts are about feeling and expression. This is true for visual arts, performing arts, literature and other forms of the arts, and it is also true at both the individual and the community level. It is so for the people who create it and for those who experience it. The lines scrawling across a paper, the chords that run throughout a song and the degree of clarity or confusion in a piece all say something. An artist takes a feeling and intensifies it; he or she tries to sincerely convey emotions in a way that makes sense. This is why art can never be a bland thing. No matter how simple a piece is, it can evoke an exact emotion in the observer and bring a message across; that is its purpose.

I often see artists at work and imagine what they are feeling and what is behind all their motions. As a child, I could really stare at and contemplate these people and their masterpieces. These opportunities come less frequently as I grow older and people grow colder, but I realize that the finished products of artists give me a glimpse of who they are. I watch movies and plays and wonder which individual a particular character was based on. Why did the scriptwriter feel the need to emphasize this trait more than another? Why were certain materials used in a piece? I want to know what the artist is trying to tell me and if I am getting their story just right. Art is communication. It is the selective recreation of reality based on the value judgment of the artist. It is not possible to fit everything into one piece. Hence, the artist portrays a world view that is specific and focused away from the general experience of life. In doing this, he makes an argument about what is important at the time. He tells a story through the medium which best helps him to bring it across. This is what is so beautiful about the arts; the storytelling that is a key part of them. Art exemplifies what life is about: stories.

Everyone, every group and every individual, has a story and the arts are essential to the transmission of these stories. The arts allow heritage to be passed down through generations. This includes simple aspects such as dress or folktale. They embody the culture of a people and share their stories in a way that nothing else can. Sometimes, literature is the best way to do this as it takes the reader on a journey of the mind into what a person’s lifestyle was at a certain time. Architecture and paintings provide images which are concrete in the thoughts of the observer. Music and dance provide something more abstract, yet definitive of a particular background. Film and theatre often recreate experiences much like literature does. The arts preserve history while providing a simple, unobtrusive method of educating different societal groups about each other. What I think is so beautiful about art, is how it allows people to reach beyond what they know, to experience something different from who they are and to think beyond the familiar. They can touch a sensation that was not originally their own, but then make it theirs once it reaches them or once they reach it. Art cuts across all boundaries, including culture, education, language, background and time. Each time that art is experienced, an imprint is left on the mind and that impression, if given time, can often change the way a person thinks. It can change how people relate to one another, simply because they recognize that at one point they were at the same place and experienced the same things. Two persons from completely different social spheres are able to come to the same conclusions on certain subjects. In this way, the arts develop the personalities of individuals, nurturing more tolerant minds and decreasing ethnocentrism. They allow persons to find similarities among themselves and build on these to form bridges to one another.

Art builds appreciation for the unfamiliar and encourages people to allow themselves to feel their own emotions. It helps them to understand themselves and to understand each other. Of all the things that the world needs in order for humans to coexist with themselves and with their environment, it is these two that it needs the most and the arts provide them.