The Charter Opinions
Let’s All Be Artists
I mean if you want to be, just hear me out.
First of all, what is art?
“Art is an act of expression that tries to understand or represent something about our human experience. I define it that way, because in the broadest terms that’s why I think people make art. ” says Anne Paris, an art and writing teacher at ACA.
According to students at ACA….
“Art is an expression of emotion through creative means. It expresses emotion and in turn evokes an emotion from the intended audience. Art mirrors society and society mirrors art, on a subcoscious [sic] level.”
“1. Art is a freedom of expression. It is the life blood [sic] of our civilization. It’s bringing people together to make something beautiful. 2. Art is the only reason I am alive and happy. Art is the reason I get up in the morning.”
The purest reflection of our society is not only the collection of work we produce but also the value we give it. Art, similar to anything else, holds the value we give it. Therefore, in order to enrich student’s education and social development, we, as a society, must put a higher value on art.
Art has played an important role in the American education system since the early 1800’s (p. 3, National Core Arts Standards: A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning). Art is an important aspect of not only a well rounded education but also a valuable part of our society and an integral link into our current and past cultures. In Oregon, education on the arts are required in all public PK-12 schools.
Starting in preschool, kids are required to be able to “utilize play and imagination to generate ideas for an artwork” and “collaboratively engage in art making in response to an artistic problem using models, master art prints, or other visuals”, according to the Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) Visual Arts Guidelines. Those guidelines, along with many others, outline the way Oregon public schools teach art.
Despite being a required subject, art is oftentimes seen as an extracurricular, or as a “fluff” class. Whether it’s because students and their families are not necessarily “artistic” or because a student is more focused on other subjects, art tends to take a back seat.
All that said, here is why art is important:
Well for starters, it’s just awesome, but if that’s not good enough for you…
- Studying art enhances student involvement
Findings from the Champion of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning (Fiske, 1999) states that, “the arts reach students not normally reached, in ways and methods not normally used”, which they claim leads to higher student attendance averages and fewer dropouts.
- Teaching art in schools changes learning dynamic
Champion of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, also states that “it [art] changes the learning environment to one of discovery”, which “re-ignites the love of learning in students tired of just being fed facts”.
Many students at ACA agree with the importance of art and its role in their education. Here are just a few of the responses from students when asked, “Why is art important to you?”:
“Art is expression and creativity. We need expression and creativity in the world to thrive, to keep sane. Not to mention art reflects society and society reflects art, so art creates a good base for historians to draw knowledge about the time period. Without expression and creativity we would be robots, and robots are the worst.
“Art is an expression of self, and of the surrounding community of oneself. It is an isolation of a time in history and acts as a tribute, and an example of that time”
“To me, art is important because it is a way to express things, as well as entertain, and it can make people happy.”
“Art is important to me because I see it everywhere. I’m not good at it but I like looking at art that people have done and admire it.”
“I love art because it’s a great way to express yourself and show your creativity!”
“When I think of music as an art, it is important to me because it feeds my soul and has such an emotional effect on me. When I play my instrument, not only am I able to have a powerful emotional experience, but it disciplines me and is something that I have to constantly work at.”
And their responses when asked, “Why is art important to our society?”:
“Society will always have its ups and downs and art is a way to express that in a positive, creative, and lasting way. Art represents the heart and soul of society whereas statistics only represent its skin and bones.”
“Because art is everywhere in people’s lives. You can literally look somewhere and you see art. Art also lets you tell people a message that wouldn’t have been effective if you have said it.”
“Because it allows people to express how they feel and what they see. It allows the artist to show us how they see the world. So we can see through their eyes.”
“Art is important because it’s something that isn’t black and white (no pun intended). Things like paintings and drawings are things to be pondered and discussed and with art, there is really no right or wrong answer. We need art in our society because it keeps us from being mechanical and it’s a means of expression. It proves that every person is different and has different interpretations of things.”
“Among laughter and music, art is, what I believe to be, the third form of universal connectivity. Everybody understands what art is in one way or another.”
“Art is important in our society because it connects us. No matter what the differences between us are, when diverse groups of people get together to paint, sing, dance, make music, it connects us. Art is the one thing that we can all have in common.”
Art is not only an opportunity for our students to express themselves in different and more personalized outlets, but it is also a segway into history and cultural understanding. In 1954, Mitchell Wilson, a physicist and novelist, wrote, “The ‘civilized man’ may be defined as someone who is at home in his own time and place; it is my belief that to be a civilized American today one must be as aware of the mainspring of contemporary — it’s technology — as Americans of a hundred years ago were aware of the soil.” (American Science and Invention)
Wilson’s quote, although written in reference to science and technology, can easily be applied to art as well. The “mainspring of contemporary” is not purely technology and scientific advancement, but also of cultural development, which includes art.
Art is important as not only a creative outlet, but as a way of enriching our students’ cultural understanding and global awareness, furthering their education and emboldening their creativity.
“Art, in the broadest sense, helps us explore our values as a society, while also binding us together in cultural identity.” – Anne Paris
Oregon Department of Education – The Arts Standards, accessed March 19, 2017
Paris, Anne. Email Interview. March 11th, 2017
The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, accessed March 22nd, 2017
The arts education partnership, The president’s committee on the arts and the humanities, edited by Edward B. Fiske.
Wilson, Mitchell, 1954, American Science and Invention