A Day Without Art

What would life be like if there was no art? Can you imagine what that would be? Think about an average day. You wake up in the morning, maybe to music on your clock radio. Perhaps you read the paper or online news stories. Both the paper and internet have ads enhanced with graphic design. You dress in clothing conceived of by a designer, and perhaps adorn yourself with accessories and jewelry. Maybe you go out for breakfast to a restaurant with a creative menu. Art, or creative expression is everywhere.

Last weekend I visited a series of “open studios” in my area. The art ranged from blown glass, to paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, handmade paper, and so much more. Not all the work was great, some was unique, thoughtful, playful, inspirational. The visual arts, the performing arts such as theater, spoken word, and dance, the written arts–literature, poetry, plays, and the ever-present movies or films, are all forms of creative expression that are so much a part of our lives that we really could not live with out them.

Of course, not everyone enjoys theater or poetry. Some do not listen to music or read books. But the arts are the way we express and celebrate who we are. We learn about ourselves and others through the arts. Books, music and film transport us into other worlds. The arts carry our stories through history. Our ceremonies express our traditions. Our stories are our identities.

As an expressive arts’ therapist, I’ve used ritual, dreamwork, storytelling, collage, clay, sand tray and drawing to help people deal with life’s challenges. The process of doing art is healing in itself, and the finished product gives the maker a sense of completion and even pride.

Some people think the arts are frivolous. In fact, the arts as creative expression give the art maker a sense of self. They give the viewer or listener meaning and they feed our imaginations. Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Who would argue with one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

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