Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Art Matters

Hundreds of artworks on display
at the Centerville Elementary school library
As the United States moves away from an arts and humanities-based college curriculum and moves toward science, math, and career-driven majors, some countries in Europe and Asia embrace the liberal arts perspective that has previously shaped many American colleges. In elementary and middle schools across the nation, art courses are being cut and replaced with technology classes. Technology is important, but so is art.

In my own suburban Twin Cities school district art was cut from the elementary school years ago. Students are taught to perform well on their math and reading aptitude test, leaving teachers and parent volunteers to fill in the art education gap.

After volunteering to teach art for the past couple of years, I am convinced that art does matter. Kids crave something different, and not everyone is cut out for a career as a math teacher or computer programmer. Art stimulates a different part kid's brains--that creative side. Clay, paint, colored paper, blank canvases, chalk, textiles, and tissue paper are all mediums of the amateur art teacher. We art volunteers use whatever we can find left behind in the art closet; remnants of days when the school employed an art teacher.

Most kids (as not everyone is a budding Picasso) become immersed in their art projects. Past students chat about their experiences working an art project and share how it inspired them to seek out an art class or visit an art gallery.

Art is more than just coloring a picture to kill time between aptitude tests. Art in the classroom is additive sculpture built together by every child in the class; clay bowls adorned with beads, paint, and sequins; a paper vase that depicts a story; and a drawing of an imaginary animal that comes to life on paper. Art transports kids away from the ordinary and invites them to look at their world in a different way. Art shapes and fulfills our kids in ways that math and science cannot. Art does matter.
Geriatric Superheros exhibit
Mori Art Gallery, Tokyo Japan


Sue said...

I agree that it has been lost but also, without art all the engineering and math goes away anyway as nobody has the creativity to actually see art in their car designs, house designs etc; they do not see the use of color and how you can be free to put an idea across and dig into that side of the brain. It teaches so many things that then can be used with the math and technical and engineering side and just life in general, even the listening and understanding someone else's viewpoint as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Art teaches this. It teaches freedom of thinking and seeing all things in a different light; not just the obvious or just the logical stand point.

Christianna said...

Exactly! Art does teach freedom and how to look at our world in a completely different way. Have you ever actually studied a work of art and been so moved by that artist's interpretation that you see parts of your life differently? I have!

Thank you for your comment Sue!

Voice of Raison said...

... plus it gives the lazy kids something to do at University!

Christianna said...

You must be referring to those "Art in the Dark" classes that kids love to sleep through!