Monday, April 13, 2009

Is art education important?

This is sort of a continuation of my last post. Chuck & I recently had a lengthy conversation about art education at all levels, the cutting of fine arts programs and the necessity of such subjects.

It seems to me that we don't value art (not just visual art but theater, dance, music, poetry...) or creativity in our society because we don't value our psychological and spiritual well-being enough. Art can heal, allow us to communicate, and offer focus & discipline. Art can be relaxing, invigorating, energizing and inspiring. It can draw attention to both our weaknesses & societal ills and to human kindnesses & strengths.

But so many people resolve so many emotional & psychological issues/needs nowadays with prescription drugs. I guess we're just looking for a quick fix so we can get back to what's supposedly important. (All too often it seems that what's important is defined as working to make and spend money. The accumulation of material possessions is not fulfilling for many people but it is all too often touted and prescribed nonetheless.)

The more that we continue to move in this direction, the less people will appreciate the real value of art. It won't be seen as an intrinsic need for all that in actuality it is. The truly unfortunate thing is that we learn so much of history and past cultures by looking at their art. What does this legacy say about us and how we will be remembered in the future, or even about how we will study and learn from the past in the decades to come?

Maybe now that so many people are worried about the economy and are trying to change their spending habits, some will come to appreciate non-material wants & needs and will come to better understand the true value of art and creativity. I think that the refocus is already having an effect on the visual art world itself, as there is a resurgence of "crafts" and a reassessment of the purpose of many of the institutions.

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