Oct 312007

Well, I know most people don’t think so. I encounter this daily when people dismiss my work and central focus of my life as a “hobby”. Something nice to be done on weekends when the children are in bed. Something that certainly is less important than exercise, or cleaning, or “real work”, or money, or people, or – let’s say – washing the car. Music lessons are the first thing to be dropped when a student’s grades are slipping. Not soccer practice.

It seems that our society deems art to be something like embroidery on a rain coat. It might be pretty to look at, but it isn’t necessary, and maybe it impedes its function. Art is what gets added when everything else is finished like the icing on a cake.

I believe that this notion is utterly wrong. I believe that art is central to human existence.

Just for the sake of this post let’s forget about any distinction between craft and art. The line is hard to draw anyway. When we don’t draw it for now, we can say that there always has been art. For as long as we can say anything about human beings. Cave paintings, decorations on pottery, carved bones, embellishments on everyday objects all tell a story of mankind’s quest for beauty and for something to transcend everyday life.

I know that art isn’t all about beauty and that creativity doesn’t equal art but while creativity might be capable of many things it is always art’s source. To me it’s what connects us to the universe, and God, and the Buddha nature of everything, but that’s only me. To the parents of my students music, which is a form of art, is often a means to an end, a way to better grades, a way to conquer ADD, or a way of making use of the piano that clutters the living room.

The point I’m trying to make here is that not only would life be poorer without art but that art is more than embellishment, that one may or may not have, but that it belongs to the core of things that make humans human. Granted, water, food, clothing, and shelter are all more important than art. But the next thing on the list would be social contact, love and friends and such. And this would bring stories, and songs, and dancing with it, and the next thing you know people are making pots just to look at them, embellish their clothes, and paint the walls of their houses.

We all try to be so utilitarian. So we have to find reasons why making art is good for us. And by being good for us we mean that ultimately it will help us make money. I won’t go much into the notion that money is a real thing instead of a contract, but it all comes down to justifications like, “When our kindergardeners spend a lot of time preparing and then acting in the school play it will help them get better grades in school which will help them to go to college and then make more money when they grow up.”

What I’d love to see is a time when people will be able to justify their pursuit of art by saying, “This is what human beings do. It makes us happy. In making us happy it makes all the people around us a bit happier too and that is good for society.”

End of sermon. But well, I had to write something dear to my heart as the first post on the new blog. Thank you for coming to my new place. I hope you like it. And if you would like the posts to have more space for better reading you could click on the left of the very, very, very small grey buttons on the top of the post. This will make the sidebars go away.

And do me a favor. Please enjoy some art today. Look at a painting, or a photograph, listen to music, whatever. Better yet, paint something, sing, play your guitar, take a picture. Yes, I mean you. I know you can do it.

  10 Responses to “Art and creativity are pivotal”

  1. Nice new site!

    Really like the fact that you dismiss the line between art and craft. In my family, in past generations, the women did crafts and famous men leading strange and questionable lifestyles did art. The women’s crafts were considered “less” valuable or important.

    Years later, when I started writing and photography, I realised what a disservice we had done to these women. They had lived their lives in quiet, constant, creative pursuit, and we didn’t honour their efforts.

  2. I DO think creativity is very important, obviously, although I think there are seasons in life when creativity expresses itself in different ways. While I was pregnant, I complained to my dad that I absolutely could not write, could not draw, and he said that was because my body was creating life and that comes from the same well.

  3. I am guilty of relegating a career in the arts to a pipe dream (not my own career – that’s my reaction to others). And not because I don’t value what the arts bring to us, but because it is a hard row to hoe. I’m not a fighter, not innovative enough to see a way to change the values of the majority.

    (Love the color scheme you have now. This really looks great. I wish I had more time – but I did want to remember to ask you about your plans for NaNoWriMo. What’s your story line?)

  4. The new site is a lovely commentary on this post. I stopped just to admire it for a little bit before I went on to read your post – I love the banner, especially now that it’s so nice and big, and the three-column layout is nice and wide and restful. So I guess you could say that I’m in a receptive state of mind now for your comments on the value of art. (And I love your little aside about money being a contract rather than a real thing.)

  5. I couldn’t agree more. My youngest child is very creatively inclined, but he doesn’t nearly the number of opportunities that my more analytically inclined child does. They are both gifted, and yet, my younger son is not often recognized as such.

    We are definitely doing our children a disservice by cutting back on enrichment programs.

  6. Happy new blog. I needed that post today after a craft party last night where i got sucked into the conversation of who had sold more etc etc. I make bags because ultimately it makes me happy. Sewing keeps me peaceful. Thank you for reminding me. I agree that music, painting, writing are all essential to who we are as human beings.

  7. Creativity, creation, the process is like air to me a compulsion. I can no more live without it as I can without breathing.

  8. What a thought provoking post. I think many people only value money and consequently time as money. Therefore they cannot appreciate art as having a value, when you are using time in that way. My father built homes. Beautiful homes, with graceful touches that other builders thought were waste of time. They wanted to build house quickly and move on to the next so that they could maximize their profit. My father wanted to craft his homes, he wanted to create something that was unique and spoke to heart of the owner. One is style is a business. Daddy’s style was an art.

  9. Its me. you know I totally agree with everything you are saying……

  10. As you said, a lot of people seem to view art and music as the icing on the cake. I just wonder how many of them would bother to eat a cake without icing.

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