John Adams said, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain”. The “right” to study painting… I believe that the arts are a right. A basic human right, and that they are one of the most powerful tools we possess to influence a population. We are fortunate to have the freedom to pursue this right, and it’s our responsibility to employ it, or we may wind up studying war all over again, so that we can get back to our right to study art. To John Adams this was a calculated progression of steps. He knew that a society who studies more art, will have less need to study war.
I believe that Art is the fourth basic human need, it follows water, food, and shelter. And if our civilization put it in that order, we would all have a better ability to prosper, peacefully.
There is a belief in many parts of the world, including our educational system in the US, that the importance of art is secondary to things like math and science, contrary to the many studies proving that it is the arts that are so very effective at developing the kinds of critical thinking skills that allow us to absorb complicated math or make scientific discoveries.
The arts force us to take something that exists only in our imagination, a concept, and idea, and by combining the creativity of the right brain, with the logic of the left brain, it takes us through the steps necessary to bring our concept, our art, to life. This practice, and understanding of how to create, builds these critical thinking skills that are at the basis of a highly functioning brain, the kind that encourages scientific and mathematical genius, as well the kind that designs sky scrapers, or tells great stories, makes movies, or composes music. Art is at the base of any creative, open, and engaged mind.
Not only does it develop creative, open and engaged minds, but it develops a spirit with the same qualities. The combination of a heart and mind that is fostered in creativity, critical thinking, and compassion, creates citizens and communities that operate not from a fear of diversity, but from a genuine appreciation of it. An open creative spirit is curious. It finds alternatives solutions to problems, rather than a steadfast attachment to a tunneled vision. It’s an open mind. It chooses discovery over conquer. It chooses beauty over battle. That is the result of our work, that is why we do what we do, and why we need to keep doing it.
We, as artists, are pushers of the best and the cheapest drugs in the world, and the high we are addicted to is wonder.
(this post is an excerpt from Kelly’s presentation: Water, Food, Shelter…ART)