• Katelyn Wiszowaty

Why the Arts are Essential in Our World

Some of my biggest memories from high school and college have been arts classes, clubs and performances. Thinking back, especially to high school, I can’t imagine what life would have been like without classes like creative writing and visual arts and, of course, the theatre department. These programs made school fun and filled my life with amazing people I will never forget. Today, Meredith College performances fill me with joy, and literature and art still play major roles in my life and always will. This is why I was deeply disappointed when I found out that my high school decided to cut arts classes. I am filled with great sympathy for the students who will no longer find an identity and safe place in the arts departments, and I am angry that the power of the arts has been so carelessly overlooked, not only at my high school, but all around the country. The arts are not only an essential part of students’ educations but an essential part of our world. The arts make the world a better place for children and adults and are what help unite and heal us when we need it most. People are thrilled every day when they come across a song, a character, a TV show or an author to which they can relate. Meeting another person who finds the same thing relatable makes us even happier. The arts help us do this. Often, reading a book or watching a movie about people who are different from ourselves helps us to develop new understandings. In an interview with the Huffington Post, former president of Washington College and current president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Dr. Mitchell B. Reiss, explained that “great literature, films and visual art transport us to different places and cultures; great art even allows us to see ourselves and our own community through a different lens.” Creators tell stories by putting emotions, conflicts and dreams into their work, whether it is about them or someone else, and when we put in the effort to understand their art, we are getting to know a person and understanding how to relate to them. Experiencing art is not only great for uniting people, but it is also good for the individual. Everyone knows that reading exercises the brain, but did you know that visual art can as well? According to Ashford University, as our brain works to understand and admire a piece of artwork, the functioning “increases blood flow to the brain by as much as 10%.” In addition to looking at a brand new painting, you may also consider creating your own, since it has been found that “creating art may help to keep the mind sharp and lucid well into old age.” Recently, art therapy has been on the rise, as many people find drawing, painting or writing to be relaxing or healing. Art therapy teaches people how to express and release emotions through artwork and find peace of mind. Art therapy can be used to help people who struggle with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, and GoodTherapy.org reports that “research indicates art therapy can improve communication and concentration and can help reduce feelings of isolation.” Art therapy can be done with a certified therapist or at home and can provide various other benefits. Because the arts are used to unite, stimulate and heal, they are an essential part of human life. Loss of the arts in anyone’s life or community would eliminate a space to express emotions and ideas and connect with other people. No one would ever consider eliminating music or visual entertainment, so why are other forms of art like literature, theatre and the visual arts any less valuable? A world that appreciates the arts is a world that is united, expressive and accepting, and without that, we have nothing. By Katelyn Wiszowaty, Staff Writer

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