Monday, March 18, 2013

A life lived for art is never a life wasted

In this day and age art is looked at as a bastard, an orphan, and almost the unwanted; at least here in America. So many people in America look at art as a worthless profession. That people choose art because they want to be lazy and sit in a studio all day. When this is the opposite.

Art enriches life. It makes life fulfilling, but unfortunately art and American culture with it, is degrading and almost going away. When you think of American culture now what comes to mind? I think of hip-hop and pop music that only sing about the hoes, the alcohol, and drugs. I think of blockbuster movies. Music and movies have become our culture, which isn't necessarily bad, but in the way it has progressed and ruled out most other art forms and even infiltrated other art forms is detrimental to our culture. Even Broadway lost its way thinking that the spectacle was more important than the words or message.

Don't get me wrong we still have some great artists out there that put out some great music, but they are often overlooked. Recently, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have produced an album called The Heist. We have all heard the song "Thrift Shop," but what about the rest? Most, if not all, of this album has some great social commentary. They have created art that inspires and makes us think. We have the song "Same Love" that promotes acceptance of the LGBT community. We have the song "10,000 hours," that gives light about the struggles of becoming an artist and how it isn't easy, but how they do it for the art and not for the money.

Every day we hear how the arts are degraded that you can't make money in the arts. That you can't live a life and be an artist. We hear of states, like Kansas, who have completely cut all funding for the arts from their budget saying it isn't necessary. We hear talk of the arts being cut from schools. We hear theater and music being taken away, but what does that leave us? Kids are left to the books, to the tests. Creativity is being leeched out of them every day. Kids are losing part of their culture and their history and most detrimental of all, the ability to critically think.

Art does much more than just create critical thinkers or problem solvers. It makes life enjoyable. It gives a sense of imagination that something can be outside of the norms of life, and everything doesn't have to fit inside of a bubble or a square on piece of paper. Where would life be without music? Without theater? Without Shakespeare? Without Picasso? Without tall tales? Without dragons or unicorns?

A few weeks ago my fiancee told me about how she was telling her students about America's Tall Tales. Telling them about Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, etc and none of them had heard of these stories before. It made me sad to know that just 12 years ago when I was in school we read these stories. That it was taught in our American History classes. It's as if imagination has been replaced with tests, with the right answer, with Halo or Max Payne (Let's get this straight, I'm not against video games at all. I own a Wii myself, but it seems that is all kids do.) When I was young the back yard was my arena, my stadium, my forest, the tundra, the desert, etc. Without this all the knowledge is lost. Without being able to imagine or critically think where are we going? Why is a test so much more important that the arts?

Now other countries have not lost this idea of the arts. Even countries that may be failing otherwise still realize the importance of art and how culture influences the future and the youth. If someone in business wants sometime to be innovative they won't be without the arts in their life. You can't expect a child who has done nothing in school except fill in bubbles and regurgitate answers to know what is going to make them competitive in the market. They won't be able to come up the next big idea.

Art is necessary. Art invigorates life. Art gives people a purpose. Art lets kids think outside that bubble. Art opens doors that cannot be seen with the eye, but with the mind and then seen, tasted, or heard, through music, through theater, through cooking, etc.

I show appreciation to those who fight against what "makes money." To all of you who want to make my and others' day brighter continue to do so. You are the unsung hero. You give light where there is none. You give color where there is only black and white. You make music where there is only silence. You are what makes this world a better place. Without art we are all lost and hopefully one day soon America will realize this. That without art there are no individuals.

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